Mani Gopal
Tip Season

Tip Season

PostgreSQL Vs MySQL Syntax - A beginners guide to use postgres and mysql with comparison and examples

PostgreSQL Vs MySQL Syntax - A beginners guide to use postgres and mysql with comparison and examples

Mani Gopal's photo
Mani Gopal
ยทJun 22, 2022ยท

12 min read

Subscribe to my newsletter and never miss my upcoming articles

Play this article

Introduction

PostgreSQL and MySQL are widely used databases by major companies across multiple projects, given the amount of scale and performance these databases can handle. Many developers work on these two important databases when transitioning to different projects or different companies. When we get used to one database for example MySQL and then transition to another database say PostgresSQL or viceversa, then we tend to use the same commands across each other. However, syntax for postgres and mysql is slightly different. In this tutorial we will compare and understand the differences between PostgreSQL and MySQL in terms of syntax for various operations or queries that are frequently used in production systems.

For the purpose of this tutorial we use psql and mysql clients for showcasing examples. As a quick recap,
psql is a terminal based client for PostgreSQL. We can connect to PostgreSQL server with psql and perform different operations.
mysql is a terminal based client for MySQL. We can connect to MySQL server with mysql and perform different operations.
So let's get started.

1. Show a list of all databases in PostgreSQL vs MySQL

As part of setup, we have created a database named demo (using create database demo) upfront in both PostgreSQL and MySQL. To show a list of all databases present in PostgreSQL or MySQL, we can use the below commands:

List or show databases in Postgres or psql:

Default databases in most PostgreSQL servers are template0 , template0, postgres.

To list all the databases in Postgres i.e. psql we can use : \l

Example in psql client: For our tutorial, you can see database demo is listed in the below example.

postgres=# \l
                                    List of databases
   Name    |     Owner     | Encoding |   Collate   |    Ctype    |   Access privileges   
-----------+---------------+----------+-------------+-------------+-----------------------
 demo      | demouser      | UTF8     | en_US.UTF-8 | en_US.UTF-8 | 
 postgres  | postgres      | UTF8     | en_US.UTF-8 | en_US.UTF-8 | 
 template0 | postgres      | UTF8     | en_US.UTF-8 | en_US.UTF-8 | =c/postgres          +
           |               |          |             |             | postgres=CTc/postgres
 template1 | postgres      | UTF8     | en_US.UTF-8 | en_US.UTF-8 | =c/postgres          +
           |               |          |             |             | postgres=CTc/postgres
(4 rows)
List or show databases in MySQL:

Default databases in most MySQL servers are information_schema , performance_schema, mysql, sys

In MySQL to show list of all databases we can use: show databases

Example in mysql client: For our tutorial, you can see database demo is listed in the below example.

mysql> show databases;
+--------------------+
| Database           |
+--------------------+
| demo               |
| information_schema |
| mysql              |
| performance_schema |
| sys                |
+--------------------+
5 rows in set (0.01 sec)

MySQL show databases is equivalent to PostgreSQL list (\l) databases.


2. Use or Change database in PostgreSQL vs MySQL

If you have multiple databases on your DB server, we often need to switch between multiple databases to perform various DDL or DML operations or to read data. In order to change or use a different database than the currently selected database, we can use the below queries.

Change or Use database in PostgreSQL:

To change the database in PostgreSQL we can use : \c {dbname}

\c {dbname} : Switches the current database to the specified database in PostgreSQL

Note: Text in curly braces can to be replaced with your own data. Don't forget to remove the braces. See example below.

postgres-# \c demo
You are now connected to database "demo" as user "demouser".
Use or Change database in MySQL:

To change the database in MySQL we can use : use {dbname}

use {dbname} : Switches the current database to the specified database in MySQL

Example:

mysql> use demo;
Database changed
mysql>

3. Show schemas in PostgreSQL vs MySQL

Schema is like a namespace of database objects such as tables, views, indexes etc. Depending on the type of DB server, a database can contain multiple schemas, but a schema belongs to only one database. In some DB servers, schema and database are used synonymously.

Show schemas in PostgreSQL:

PostgreSQL supports having multiple schemas in a single database so that you can specify different namespace for different features.

\dn : Shows list of schemas in PostgreSQL

Example:

postgres=# \dn
  List of schemas
  Name  |  Owner   
--------+----------
 public | postgres
(1 row)
Show schemas in MySQL:

In MySQL a schema is similar or synonymous with a database. You can substitute the keyword SCHEMA instead of DATABASE in MySQL SQL syntax, for example using CREATE SCHEMA instead of CREATE DATABASE.

show schemas : Shows list of schemas in MySQL

Example:

mysql> show schemas;
+--------------------+
| Database           |
+--------------------+
| demo               |
| information_schema |
| mysql              |
| performance_schema |
| sys                |
+--------------------+
5 rows in set (0.02 sec)

4. Show a list of all tables in PostgreSQL vs MySQL

Once we change to the desired database, one of the most frequently used operations is to list all the tables that are present in the current database.

List or show tables PostgreSQL:

To show the list of tables in PostgreSQL, we can use \dt or \dt+ or \d or \d+

\dt or \d : Gives list of tables in current database

\dt+ or \d+: Gives list of tables in current database with additional information like Size, description etc.

star Pro Tip: In postgres/psql, many commands support + as part of the syntax. Eg: Try \dt+ instead of \dt . If we use + , we can see additional information for that specific command.

Example: For this example two tables demo_table_primarykey (with primary key) and demo_table (without primary key) are already created for demo purposes.

demo-# \dt
                   List of relations
 Schema |         Name          | Type  |     Owner     
--------+-----------------------+-------+---------------
 public | demo_table            | table | demouser
 public | demo_table_primarykey | table | demouser
(2 rows)

demo-# \dt+
                                              List of relations
 Schema |         Name          | Type  |     Owner     | Persistence | Access method |  Size   | Description 
--------+-----------------------+-------+---------------+-------------+---------------+---------+-------------
 public | demo_table            | table | demouser | permanent   | heap          | 0 bytes | 
 public | demo_table_primarykey | table | demouser | permanent   | heap          | 0 bytes | 
(2 rows)
List or show tables MySQL:

Once we select current database with use demo , to show the list of tables in MySQL, we can use show tables

show tables Gives list of tables in current database for mysql
mysql> show tables;
+-----------------------+
| Tables_in_demo        |
+-----------------------+
| demo_table            |
| demo_table_primarykey |
+-----------------------+
2 rows in set (0.00 sec)

5. Describe table in PostgreSQL vs MySQL

Now that we know how to list all the tables, let's focus on specific table. If we have to describe the table fields, index etc, we can use the below queries.

Describe table in PostgreSQL:

To describe a table in PostgreSQL, we can use : \dt {table_name} or \dt+ {table_name} Alternatively \d {table_name} or \d+ {table_name} can also be used with each of the queries resulting in slightly different columns.

\dt {table_name} Gives basic information about specific table
\dt+ {table_name} Gives additional information about specific table
\d+ {table_name} Gives index level details too for more specific information. (Preferred way)

Example:

demo=# \d+ demo_table_primarykey;
                                  Table "public.demo_table_primarykey"
 Column |  Type   | Collation | Nullable | Default | Storage | Compression | Stats target | Description 
--------+---------+-----------+----------+---------+---------+-------------+--------------+-------------
 id     | integer |           | not null |         | plain   |             |              | 
Indexes:
    "demo_table_primarykey_pkey" PRIMARY KEY, btree (id)
Access method: heap

demo=# \dt demo_table_primarykey;
                   List of relations
 Schema |         Name          | Type  |     Owner     
--------+-----------------------+-------+---------------
 public | demo_table_primarykey | table | demouser
(1 row)

demo=# \dt+ demo_table_primarykey;
                                              List of relations
 Schema |         Name          | Type  |     Owner     | Persistence | Access method |  Size   | Description 
--------+-----------------------+-------+---------------+-------------+---------------+---------+-------------
 public | demo_table_primarykey | table | demouser | permanent   | heap          | 0 bytes | 
(1 row)
Describe table in MySQL:

In MySQL, to describe a table we can use desc {table_name} or describe {table_name} for detailed table information.

describe {table_name} Gives full information about specific table

Example below:

mysql> describe table demo_table_primarykey;
+----+-------------+-----------------------+------------+-------+---------------+---------+---------+------+------+----------+-------------+
| id | select_type | table                 | partitions | type  | possible_keys | key     | key_len | ref  | rows | filtered | Extra       |
+----+-------------+-----------------------+------------+-------+---------------+---------+---------+------+------+----------+-------------+
|  1 | SIMPLE      | demo_table_primarykey | NULL       | index | NULL          | PRIMARY | 4       | NULL |    1 |   100.00 | Using index |
+----+-------------+-----------------------+------------+-------+---------------+---------+---------+------+------+----------+-------------+
1 row in set, 1 warning (0.00 sec)

6. Show create table in PostgreSQL vs MySQL

If we want to see how the table is created or detailed indexes etc, MySQL has a convenient way to show the exact table structure. But in PostgreSQL there is no straight forward way to see it. But here are some alternatives.

Show create table in PostgreSQL:

Since there is no inbuilt query to show how table is created, we can use \d+ {table_name} like we discussed in the list table section to view the detailed table info. If we want the exact table structure we can rely on pg_dump utility which is originally an export schema/data utility of postgres. We can leverage the schema dump mechanism from that.

pg_dump -st {table_name} {dbname} Dumps the exact table DDL
Show create table in MySQL:

In MySQL, in order to see how the table is created, we can use

show create table {table_name} Shows the exact DDL that is used to create the table
mysql> show create table demo_table_primarykey;
+-----------------------+-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| Table                 | Create Table                                                                                                                                        |
+-----------------------+-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| demo_table_primarykey | CREATE TABLE `demo_table_primarykey` (
  `id` int NOT NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY (`id`)
) ENGINE=InnoDB DEFAULT CHARSET=utf8mb4 COLLATE=utf8mb4_0900_ai_ci |
+-----------------------+-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
1 row in set (0.01 sec)

7. Show list of users or roles in PostgreSQL vs MySQL

To view the list of users or roles in PostgreSQL vs MySQL we can use the below syntax.

List users or roles in PostgreSQL:

Detailed of information of users and roles can be obtained from \du

\du Shows the list of roles and their attributes in PostgreSQL
demo=# \du
                                     List of roles
   Role name   |                         Attributes                         | Member of 
---------------+------------------------------------------------------------+-----------
 postgres      | Superuser, Create role, Create DB, Replication, Bypass RLS | {}
 demouser | Superuser, Create role, Create DB                          | {}
Show all users or roles in MySQL:

In MySQL mysql.user table gives detailed information about various users, roles and their properties. To get user and their host you can use below query. Optionally try DESCRIBE mysql.user to see full list of supported attributes.

SELECT User, Host from mysql.user; Shows the list of roles and their attributes in MySQL
mysql> SELECT User, Host from mysql.user;
+------------------+-----------+
| User             | Host      |
+------------------+-----------+
| mysql.infoschema | localhost |
| mysql.session    | localhost |
| mysql.sys        | localhost |
| demouser             | localhost |
+------------------+-----------+
4 rows in set (0.00 sec)

8. Show process list in PostgreSQL vs MySQL

If you have a slow query or you want to view the list of current running process list, we can use the below queries.

Show process list in PostgreSQL:

To show process list in PostgreSQL, we can rely on pg_stat_activity table. This table has very useful information about currently running activities on the database.

select * from pg_stat_activity Gives the detailed list of processes in PostgreSQL

Example:

postgres=# select * from pg_stat_activity;
 datid | datname  |  pid  | leader_pid | usesysid |    usename    | application_name | client_addr | client_hostname | client_port |         backend_start         |          xact_start           |          query_start          |         state_change          | wait_event_type |     wait_event      | state  | backend_xid | backend_xmin | query_id |              query              |         backend_type         
-------+----------+-------+------------+----------+---------------+------------------+-------------+-----------------+-------------+-------------------------------+-------------------------------+-------------------------------+-------------------------------+-----------------+---------------------+--------+-------------+--------------+----------+---------------------------------+------------------------------
       |          |  1855 |            |          |               |                  |             |                 |             | 2022-06-17 17:30:34.569684-07 |                               |                               |                               | Activity        | AutoVacuumMain      |        |             |              |          |                                 | autovacuum launcher
       |          |  1857 |            |       10 | postgres      |                  |             |                 |             | 2022-06-17 17:30:34.574222-07 |                               |                               |                               | Activity        | LogicalLauncherMain |        |             |              |          |                                 | logical replication launcher
only some datashown for example purposes
Show process list in MySQL:

To show process list in MySQL you can use : show processlist

show processlist Gives the detailed list of processes in MySQL

Example:

mysql> show processlist;
+----+-----------------+-----------+------+---------+-------+------------------------+------------------+
| Id | User            | Host      | db   | Command | Time  | State                  | Info             |
+----+-----------------+-----------+------+---------+-------+------------------------+------------------+
|  5 | event_scheduler | localhost | NULL | Daemon  | 65151 | Waiting on empty queue | NULL             |
|  8 | demouser            | localhost | demo | Query   |     0 | init                   | show processlist |
+----+-----------------+-

As you can see from the above comparison, each database is different and the way you can get information from these databases change a bit. So bookmark and share this post to ease your day-to-day development.

9. Comments, Quotes, Case sensitivty in PostgreSQL VS MySQL

There are some basic differences between PostgreSQL VS MySQL in terms of comments, quotes, case sensitivity. Lets check them here.

Comments:
  • Single line comments in PostgreSQL can be added using: --
  • Single line comments in MySQL can be added using: #
Handling Quotes:
  • PosgreSQL support only single quote (') character for strings. Example: WHERE site = 'tipseason.com'
  • MySQL supports both single quote (') and double quote (") characters for strings. Example: WHERE site = 'tipseason.com' or WHERE site = "tipseason.com"
Case sensitivity:
  • PosgreSQL is case-sensitive. Example: WHERE site = 'tipseason.com' might give different results than WHERE site = 'TipSeason.com' . We can use case conversion like (lower , upper etc.) and compare the objects.
  • MySQL is case-insensitive. So in above example both queries gives same results.

PostgreSQL vs MySQL Comparison Side by side comparison CheatSheet in Table form

It's always easier to compare things in a table form side by side. You can get the full cheatsheet here.
MySQL vs PostgreSQL syntax comparision cheatsheet


We hope you like this post. If you have any questions or suggestions or need any other additional info, please comment below.

We have started a coding community for most frequently used real world coding tips. You can join us here
TipSeason Facebook Group
TipSeason Discord channel
As a bonus, here is a simple tech tip to increase your productivity.

What do you want to learn next ? Drop a comment below!

Did you find this article valuable?

Support Mani Gopal by becoming a sponsor. Any amount is appreciated!

Learn more about Hashnode Sponsors
ย 
Share this