There used to be a public link to the JTC 1/SC 32 working drafts of 9075:2003, but the link I had has not worked since they started on the post-2003 revisions. Given that there are publicly available copies of many of their other specifications (11179-1:2004, for example), I'm wondering if any one knows of any ways to legally get access to the ISO/IEC 9075 specifications. Perhaps there is a link to the working drafts, or a Foundation that provides access to it for something less than the roughly $3000 USD it would cost me to learn SQL from the standards body instead of relying on implementation-specific books and documentation.

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    TBH I think you are going about it the wrong way - no-one actually implements the full SQL standard exactly as written. Think about C - there is an ANSI standard, but in practice, to write a useful program you will need to use some implementation-specific libraries. Pick one of the big names that has a free version - Oracle, MSSQL or Postgres will give you plenty to get your teeth stuck into (SQLite and MySQL are simpler).
    – Gaius
    Jan 21, 2011 at 22:39
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    + 1 for what Gaius said. There are lots of good SQL books, even for the language only. Don't need to pay anything on the spec. Anyway only the basic SQL (DDL+DML) will be identical on the modern DBMS servers, all the procedural part of their languages is a bit different and you'll need to read the specific flavor.
    – Marian
    Jan 21, 2011 at 23:52
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    I appreciate the input - I am actually already comfortable with the engine-specific dialects of most of the popular engines out there, and wanted to branch out to understanding which parts of those engine-specific dialects are actually part of the standards, and which parts are not.
    – TML
    Jan 24, 2011 at 8:02

3 Answers 3


Here they are:

But I'd rather read read a book:


The formal spec is about the worst choice you can make for a resource if your purpose is (quote) "to learn SQL".

I'd advise you to learn SQL "the normal way", and keep it in the back of your head that there is such a thing as a standard version of the language, and keep it in the back of your head that many implementations can get really rather grotesque in their deviations from and omissions from and extensions to the standard.


"and wanted to branch out to understanding which parts of those engine-specific dialects are actually part of the standards, and which parts are not."

That sheds a bit of an other light on your question. The following, though not entirely "gratis", but much less expensive than the full print, might be of help :

"The five parts of SQL:2011 were published yesterday (which for my current time was 2011-12-15). The documents can be found in the ISO web store using:


The consolidated CD (containing the 2011 edition of parts 1, 2, 4, 11, and 14 and the 2008 edition of parts 3, 9, 10, and 11) is listed at CHF 238,00."


C. J. Date, Hugh Darwen
A Guide to the SQL Standard

tutorial to the SQL92 Standard from two prominent database experts

  • While I appreciate the recommendation, and I do love to read Date & Darwen, this book isn't really relevant to the question; it's not available gratis, it doesn't cover the entire specification, and what it does cover has been superseded for more than a decade.
    – TML
    Aug 27, 2012 at 22:30
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    The entire specification ? Look. I don't know about your current level of knowledge. But if somebody told you he doesn't speak English very well, but wants to learn, would you direct him to the entire Webster's dictionary and learn that ? Besides. Most of what was written in the :1992 version of the standard has NOT been "superseded". The new versions ever since :1992 have for the largest part been about the addition of so-called optional conformance features. Aug 28, 2012 at 14:29

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