Adventures in Machine Learning

Unlocking the Power of SQL: Joining Multiple Tables Made Easy

Joining Multiple Tables in SQL: Understanding SQL JOINS

Today, big data is at the center of most businesses’ growth initiatives. Proper utilization of this data requires the ability to collect and integrate data from different sources.

One of the most critical skills required to manage multiple datasets is the ability to join tables in SQL. SQL JOINs is a powerful tool that enables users to combine rows from two or more tables based on a related column between them.

In this article, we will explore some of the key concepts surrounding JOINs in SQL, including extending JOINs to multiple tables, junction tables, and joining tables without a junction table.

Extending JOINs to Multiple Tables

Sometimes, working with just two tables is not sufficient to meet the data processing requirements of a complex problem. In most cases, the need arises to merge more than two tables to answer specific queries.

The first step in extending JOINS is to understand the database schema used in the data you are manipulating. Database schema refers to the organization of data in a database.

Figuring out the organization of the data will help determine which JOIN should be employed to retrieve specific information. Let us consider a scenario where we have a multi-dimensional schema consisting of tables such as student, student_course, course, and teacher.

In this situation, a student can have many courses, and similarly, a course can be taught by many teachers. In the case of a many-to-many relationship, we use something called a junction table.

Junction Tables

A junction table is used to link two tables undergoing a many-to-many relationship. This table contains a foreign key from each of the related tables.

In the example above, a junction table called student_course has student_id and course_id columns that link tables student and course.

Joining 3 Tables Using a Junction Table

To join three tables using a junction table, a JOIN clause with an equi-join is used. An equi-join selects records that have matching values in both tables involved in the join.

Here is an example:

SELECT *FROM student

INNER JOIN student_course

ON student.student_id = student_course.student_id


ON student_course.course_id = course.course_id;

The result is a table with all the records from the three tables involved. In the query above, the INNER JOIN is used to select only the matching records.

It associates the student table and student_course table based on student_id column and subsequently links student_course table to course using the course_id column.

Joining SQL Tables Without a Junction Table

Sometimes, junction tables do not exist, but you still need to join tables. In such cases, you can join the tables using the DISTINCT keyword.

This keyword is used to remove duplicates from a table. The statement below shows how to join two tables using the DISTINCT keyword:

SELECT DISTINCT student.student_name, course.course_nameFROM student, student_course, course

WHERE student.student_id = student_course.student_id

AND student_course.course_id = course.course_id;

In this example, the DISTINCT keyword is used to remove the duplicates resulting from the multiple joins.

The query above joins the student table to the student_course table using the student_id column and then moves to link course table to the resulting merge using the course_id column.

Basic principles are key to join three or more tables

To avoid confusion when joining multiple tables, it’s critical to have a clear understanding of basic JOINs. JOINs involve combining records from two database tables based on related data. When working with many tables, you need to know each table’s relationship with the other tables.

Doing so will help you eliminate data redundancy and ensure a reliable and efficient database query.

Misconceptions about JOINs

Some people often believe JOINS are complicated and require extensive programming skills. In reality, JOINs are pretty simple.

It takes just a few lines of code to join multiple tables in SQL. The complexity of some JOINS is largely due to the amount of data involved, but this is manageable using simple JOIN statements.

Limitless Possibilities

In conclusion, JOINs allow businesses to maximize the value of their data. It’s crucial to know how to implement JOINS in SQL confidently.

Extending JOINS to multiple tables, Junction tables, and working without junction tables are critical skills that aid in unlocking the limitless possibilities of JOINs. JOINs can help you analyze complex data to create business insights, providing a competitive edge. A valuable resource for mastering JOINs is, a site that offers free and paid SQL courses for all skill levels.

Extending JOINS to Multiple Tables: JOINing Three Tables

One of the most common tasks in SQL is joining three tables or multiple tables. To JOIN three tables, we need to understand the relationship between the different tables.

As explained earlier, we can use a junction table to link two tables that require a many-to-many relationship. However, with three tables, we can only join them either using one primary table with two supporting tables or by joining them using two supporting tables.

Repeat JOIN Clause

When joining three or more tables together, the JOIN clause can become more complex, and debugging it can become more difficult. A repeat JOIN clause is one approach to simplify the complexity of these queries.

A repeat JOIN clause involves writing the JOIN clause multiple times, instead of combining all three tables into a single JOIN statement. To exemplify this approach, consider a scenario where we have three tables; customers, orders, and products.

We need to find customers who have ordered a specific product. Here’s how we would use the repeat JOIN approach:

SELECT customers.customer_nameFROM customers

JOIN orders

ON customers.customer_id = orders.customer_id

JOIN products

ON orders.product_id = products.product_id

AND products.product_name = ‘Apples’;

In this query, we first join the customers table and orders table, using the customers’ customer_id and the orders’ customer_id columns. We then join the products table to the result of the first JOIN, using the product_id column in orders table and products table.

The last line makes sure we only get the customers who have ordered the specific product “Apples.”

Overview of Database Schema

Before we can JOIN tables, we must first be familiar with the structure of the database. The schema of the database is the foundation for understanding database relationships and table properties.

A schema can be thought of as a blueprint for a database structure, outlining the data tables that store data, relationships between tables and constraints on the data.

Student Table

The student table would have unique identifiers such as student_id to identify each student. Additionally, a typical student table would have other columns that hold information about the students, such as their names, addresses, and contact information.


Course Table

The student_course table is used to establish many-to-many relationships between the student and course tables. It usually includes the primary keys of both the student table and the course table.

Any data specific to the student and course pairing is also added to this table. Common data included on the student_course table would be the date of enrollment, the grade for the course and the course id for identifying the course.

Course Table

The course table contains the primary key of the course table, which is used as the foreign key in other tables that relate to it. Other information about the course is saved in the course table, such as the course name, course description, and credits.

Teacher Table

The teacher table would contain the teacher’s unique identifiers like an id number along with personal information like names and addresses. Other information like the teacher’s qualifications, courses taught, and contact information could also be included in the teacher table.


In conclusion, JOINing three tables using repeat JOINs is a way of simplifying complex queries with numerous JOINs. Getting to know the database schema is crucial when joining tables in SQL. A firm understanding of the different tables’ columns helps identify relationships and data compatibility.

Knowing how to JOIN three or more tables is a valuable skill that unlocks the full potential of databases by allowing users to combine multiple sources of data to answer complex queries.

Junction Tables: Connection Between Tables

To connect data in multiple tables, we use join clauses in SQL. In the case of a many-to-many relationship, we use a junction table.

The junction table is used to link two tables that require a many-to-many relationship. It contains foreign keys from both tables and allows you to JOIN tables based on related data.

Many-to-Many Relationship

A many-to-many relationship is a relationship between two tables, where one entity in the first table can have many related entities in the second table, and vice versa. For example, a student can take many courses, and a course can be taken by many students.

A many-to-many relationship requires a junction table to enable the relationship.

Usage of Junction Table

A junction table is used to enable a many-to-many relationship. It holds the connection between the two tables, and it’s where the foreign keys of both tables exist.

The information in the junction table is related to the relationship between the two tables. It contains no unique data, and it’s only used to link the two tables.

Joining 3 Tables Using a Junction Table

Joining three tables can be challenging when using traditional SQL JOINs. However, using a junction table makes the process simpler. Here are the steps to JOIN three tables using a junction table.

Step 1: Select Columns

The first step is to determine the columns that you want to select. Decide which columns you want to see from each table.

You usually select columns that are present in all three tables. For example, in the case of joining a student, course, and teacher table, you might want to join based on the student’s name, course name, and the teacher’s name.

Step 2: Determine Necessary Tables

After selecting columns, you need to determine which tables are necessary to complete the query. In the example involving students, courses, and teachers, the three tables are required.

This first step is essential to determine which JOINs to use in the next step. Step 3: Joining Tables

The last step is joining the tables.

Here, we usually start with the FROM clause, then include the JOIN clause or clauses separated by the ON keyword, which specifies how the tables join. In the example, joining the three tables would look like:


FROM student_course

INNER JOIN students ON = student_course.student_id

INNER JOIN courses ON = student_course.course_id

INNER JOIN teachers ON courses.teacher_id =;

Equi JOINs are typically used to JOIN three tables. An equi JOIN selects records that have matching values in both tables involved in the join.

In the example, we used an equi JOIN between the student table and the student_course table to allow SELECTing data from both tables based on a matching id.

Example Data

To illustrate the JOIN clauses’ functionality when joining three tables with a junction table, let’s consider a sample problem. Assume you are managing a school database where you have a student table, a course table, and a teacher table that are related using a junction table called student_course.

The student table would have columns with student data like student_id and student_name. In contrast, the course table would have columns with course data like course_id, course_name, and course_description.

The junction table, student_course, contains two columns, student_id and course_id, which act as foreign keys from the student and course tables. The teacher table would also have columns with data on the teacher’s id, name, and qualifications.

The courses table would contain a teacher_id column containing the teacher’s id of the teacher that teaches the course.


Junction tables help manage data in complex database relationships in SQL. They are a standard way of handling many-to-many relationships in SQL.

Understanding the junction table is the first step to JOINing multiple tables in SQL. The key steps to JOINing three tables in SQL using a junction table include selecting columns, defining necessary tables, and using the correct JOIN clause to create the necessary relationships between tables.

This skill is essential for manipulating data in complex systems, and with practice, JOINing multiple tables will become as easy as JOINing just two tables in SQL.

Joining SQL Tables Without a Junction Table:

Teacher TableIn SQL, joining tables with no junction table involves using INNER JOIN or LEFT OUTER JOIN for the tables that will be joined. Let’s assume that you have a teacher table, which is related to students and courses.

The teacher table, in this case, would have attributes like teacher_id, teacher_name, and teacher_email.

Query to Show Teachers and Their Students

You might want to write a query to show the teachers and their students. The query uses INNER JOIN or LEFT OUTER JOIN if we want to return all the teachers, regardless of whether or not they have students.

For example:

SELECT DISTINCT teachers.teacher_name, students.student_name

FROM teachers

INNER JOIN courses ON teachers.teacher_id = courses.teacher_id

INNER JOIN student_course ON courses.course_id = student_course.course_id

INNER JOIN students ON students.student_id = student_course.student_id;

In this example, the DISTINCT keyword is used to remove the duplicates that would come from multiple JOINS. The query JOINs teacher, course, student_course, and student tables using INNER JOIN to match data from multiple tables.

JOINing Additional Tables

In many SQL systems, joining additional tables is necessary. In such cases, it is critical to remember that the JOIN clause combinations are only determined by both tables’ column relationships.

In the previous example, the student table is joined with the teacher and course tables, but by adding a new table, we create a scenario in which a four-way JOIN is executed. For example, let us add the department table.

The department table could include department data and join to the teachers table using an additional column called the department_id. The four-way query would look like:

SELECT DISTINCT teachers.teacher_name, students.student_name, department.department_name

FROM teachers

INNER JOIN department ON department.department_id = teachers.department_id

INNER JOIN courses ON courses.teacher_id = teachers.teacher_id

INNER JOIN student_course ON courses.course_id = student_course.course_id

INNER JOIN students ON students.student_id = student_course.student_id;

The query now JOINs four tables using INNER JOIN, filtering down results to display only the relevant columns.

Importance of Basic JOINs

Basic JOINs are critical for building on top of them to JOIN larger numbers of tables. The fundamental concepts learned when creating basic JOINs help in understanding how JOINs work with three or more tables.

The basic principles of inserting data into mid-tables and maintaining their foreign key relationships underpin the operation.

Practice and Learn

JOINing several tables is not easy, and it takes practice to get it right. You need to be confident while navigating through various columns and tables by mixing a combination of several different JOINs and using different clauses.

Practice by writing simple JOIN statements, testing them thoroughly, and then expanding on them by adding extra tables to bring up more complex datasets. In conclusion, when JOINing without a junction table in SQL, INNER JOIN and LEFT OUTER JOIN clauses are used.

The DISTINCT keyword is used to remove duplicates in the result set. It is essential to understand the essence of basic JOIN

Popular Posts