What is CHARINDEX in SQL? Explained!

No denying every programming language has its importance in the field. You can’t say that HTML is useless if you are an expert in SQL. Some specified tasks are performed using a specific programming language that other languages can’t perform.

Additionally, some functions/commands belong to a specific language like CHARINDEX belongs to SQL. A common question that comes to mind of a beginner is what is CHARINDEX in SQL. If you are also looking for the answer to the same query, you should read this blog till the end.

This blog will highlight what this specified function is used for and its main purpose. We will also highlight a few drawbacks of this function that make space for other functions of SQL. Let’s get started!


It is a specified function that acts like a search key in SQL to find a specific/particular string or word within seconds. Using CHARINDEX, one can find a specific term in the entire string just by writing that word in this format.

The term that has to be searched in SQL using this function must be written as “CHARINDEX (“that phrase”)”. It means you have to put CHARINDEX and then write that term within inverted commas in the small brackets.

After inserting this command, you will be able to see where that term appears for the first time in the entire script. CHARINDEX shows the index number of that term in return when you insert it. In simple words, you won’t be able to see a line explaining where that term is.

But you will get a number like 1, 2, 3, 4, etc according to the index number that term has in the script line. So, you should be proficient in the language to understand where that term/word exists in the script.

Main Purpose of Using CHARINDEX

Undoubtedly, CHARINDEX SQL has the main purpose of finding the inserted term in the script. But it works differently as it belongs to the first appearance of the term/word only. Simply, you can say that it shows where that word appears for the first time in the whole script.

So, you will be able to jump to that part of the script with this function key. You won’t be able to search for the term in the whole script if it exists or appears multiple times. But it is useful too as you can’t analyze the whole script to find the first appearance of the term.

Being a programmer, you must be aware of how hard it is to find a term from the script manually. Thanks to the CHARINDEX key in SQL helps programmers resolve this problem and find where they have used that word in their script for the first time.

Drawback of CHARINDEX

Like other function keys or commands, CHARINDEX also has a few limitations. You should read and understand them if you want to learn what is CHARINDEX in SQL properly. The first drawback of this function is that it shows the first appearance of the word only.

You will not be able to see the phrase at every point you have used it. To do this, you have to delete the term where this function key shows for the first time. After this, when you put this command again, it will consider the next appearance as the first appearance and highlight the term.

The second major drawback is that it works only in a script that has a maximum of 8000 characters. It means that you will not be able to utilize this command if your script is longer than this limit.

What Does “0” Mean in CHARINDEX Return?

Sometimes, CHARINDEX in SQL shows “0” in return when a user inserts this command. For a beginner, it is difficult to digest what that return value means. Here is a quick but brief answer to this question.

“0” in return to CHARINDEX in SQL means that the inserted phrase doesn’t exist in the script. Normally, programmers use this condition to find if they have made a mistake while typing a specific term/function for their code.

In this language, “0” means null which shows the searched query doesn’t belong to the script in which it is being searched.

Final Words

In the above blog, we have discussed what is CHARINDEX in SQL in detail with an explanation of its useful and harmful impacts. We have discussed what you should learn being a beginner. You can easily understand what we have written as it is written in simple words for our valuable students.

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