ALTER TABLE

Alters the schema or properties of a table.

Table identifier parameter

The table identifier parameter in all statements has the following form:

  • table_identifier
    • [database_name.] table_name: A table name, optionally qualified with a database name.
    • delta.`<path-to-table>` : The location of an existing Delta table.

ADD COLUMNS

Add columns to an existing table.

Syntax

ALTER TABLE table_identifier ADD COLUMNS ( col_spec [ , ... ] )

Parameters

  • COLUMNS ( col_spec )

    The columns to be added.

ADD AND DROP PARTITION

ADD PARTITION

Adds a partition to the partitioned table.

Syntax

ALTER TABLE table_identifier ADD [IF NOT EXISTS]
    ( partition_spec [ partition_spec ... ] )

Parameters

  • partition_spec

    Partition to be added.

    Syntax: PARTITION ( partition_col_name  = partition_col_val [ , ... ] )

DROP PARTITION

Drops the partition of the table.

Syntax

ALTER TABLE table_identifier DROP [ IF EXISTS ] partition_spec [PURGE]

Parameters

  • partition_spec

    Partition to be dropped.

    Syntax: PARTITION ( partition_col_name  = partition_col_val [ , ... ] )

RENAME TO

Changes the name of an existing table in the database.

Syntax

ALTER TABLE table_identifier RENAME TO table_identifier

ALTER TABLE table_identifier partition_spec RENAME TO partition_spec

Parameters

  • partition_spec

    Partition to be renamed.

    Syntax: PARTITION ( partition_col_name  = partition_col_val [ , ... ] )

SET AND UNSET

SET TABLE PROPERTIES

Set and unset table properties. If a property was already set, overrides the old value with the new one.

Syntax

-- Set Table Properties
ALTER TABLE table_identifier SET TBLPROPERTIES ( key1 = val1, key2 = val2, ... )

-- Unset Table Properties
ALTER TABLE table_identifier UNSET TBLPROPERTIES [ IF EXISTS ] ( key1, key2, ... )

SET SERDE

Sets the SERDE or SERDE properties in Hive tables. If a property was already set, overrides the old value with the new one.

Syntax

-- Set SERDE Properties
ALTER TABLE table_identifier [ partition_spec ]
    SET SERDEPROPERTIES ( key1 = val1, key2 = val2, ... )

ALTER TABLE table_identifier [ partition_spec ] SET SERDE serde_class_name
    [ WITH SERDEPROPERTIES ( key1 = val1, key2 = val2, ... ) ]

SET LOCATION And SET FILE FORMAT

Sets the file location and file format for existing tables.

Syntax

-- Changing File Format
ALTER TABLE table_identifier [ partition_spec ] SET FILEFORMAT file_format

-- Changing File Location
ALTER TABLE table_identifier [ partition_spec ] SET LOCATION 'new_location'

Parameters

  • partition_spec

    The partition on which the property has to be set.

    Syntax: PARTITION ( partition_col_name  = partition_col_val [ , ... ] )

  • SERDEPROPERTIES ( key1 = val1, key2 = val2, … )

    The SERDE properties to be set.

Delta table options

In addition to the standard ALTER TABLE options, Delta tables support the options described in this section.

For add, change, and replace column examples, see Explicitly update schema.

ADD COLUMNS

Adds columns to an existing table including adding nested columns. If a column with the same name already exists in the table or the same nested struct, an exception is thrown.

Syntax

ALTER TABLE table_identifier ADD COLUMNS (col_name data_type [COMMENT col_comment] [FIRST|AFTER colA_name], ...)

ALTER TABLE table_identifier ADD COLUMNS (col_name.nested_col_name data_type [COMMENT col_comment] [FIRST|AFTER colA_name], ...)

CHANGE COLUMN

Changes a column definition of an existing table. You can change the data type, comment, or nullability of a column and reorder columns.

Syntax

ALTER TABLE table_identifier (ALTER|CHANGE) [COLUMN] alterColumnAction

ALTER TABLE table_identifier (ALTER|CHANGE) [COLUMN] alterColumnAction

alterColumnAction:
    : TYPE dataType
    : [COMMENT col_comment]
    : [FIRST|AFTER colA_name]
    : (SET | DROP) NOT NULL

CHANGE COLUMN (Hive syntax)

Changes a column definition of an existing table. You can change the comment of the column and reorder columns.

Syntax

ALTER TABLE table_identifier CHANGE [COLUMN] col_name col_name data_type [COMMENT col_comment] [FIRST|AFTER colA_name]

ALTER TABLE table_identifier CHANGE [COLUMN] col_name.nested_col_name col_name data_type [COMMENT col_comment] [FIRST|AFTER colA_name]

Note

You cannot use CHANGE COLUMN:

  • To change the contents of complex data types such as structs. Instead use ADD COLUMNS to add new columns to nested fields, or ALTER COLUMN to change the properties of a nested column.
  • To relax the nullability of a column. Instead use ALTER TABLE table_name ALTER COLUMN column_name DROP NOT NULL.

REPLACE COLUMNS

Replaces the column definitions of an existing table. It supports changing the comments of columns, adding columns, and reordering columns. If specified column definitions are not compatible with the existing definitions, an exception is thrown.

Syntax

ALTER TABLE table_name REPLACE COLUMNS (col_name1 col_type1 [COMMENT col_comment1], ...)

Examples

-- RENAME table
DESC student;
+-----------------------+---------+-------+
|               col_name|data_type|comment|
+-----------------------+---------+-------+
|                   name|   string|   NULL|
|                 rollno|      int|   NULL|
|                    age|      int|   NULL|
|# Partition Information|         |       |
|             # col_name|data_type|comment|
|                    age|      int|   NULL|
+-----------------------+---------+-------+

ALTER TABLE Student RENAME TO StudentInfo;

-- After Renaming the table
DESC StudentInfo;
+-----------------------+---------+-------+
|               col_name|data_type|comment|
+-----------------------+---------+-------+
|                   name|   string|   NULL|
|                 rollno|      int|   NULL|
|                    age|      int|   NULL|
|# Partition Information|         |       |
|             # col_name|data_type|comment|
|                    age|      int|   NULL|
+-----------------------+---------+-------+

-- RENAME partition

SHOW PARTITIONS StudentInfo;
+---------+
|partition|
+---------+
|   age=10|
|   age=11|
|   age=12|
+---------+

ALTER TABLE default.StudentInfo PARTITION (age='10') RENAME TO PARTITION (age='15');

-- After renaming Partition
SHOW PARTITIONS StudentInfo;
+---------+
|partition|
+---------+
|   age=11|
|   age=12|
|   age=15|
+---------+

-- Add new columns to a table
DESC StudentInfo;
+-----------------------+---------+-------+
|               col_name|data_type|comment|
+-----------------------+---------+-------+
|                   name|   string|   NULL|
|                 rollno|      int|   NULL|
|                    age|      int|   NULL|
|# Partition Information|         |       |
|             # col_name|data_type|comment|
|                    age|      int|   NULL|
+-----------------------+---------+-------+

ALTER TABLE StudentInfo ADD columns (LastName string, DOB timestamp);

-- After Adding New columns to the table
DESC StudentInfo;
+-----------------------+---------+-------+
|               col_name|data_type|comment|
+-----------------------+---------+-------+
|                   name|   string|   NULL|
|                 rollno|      int|   NULL|
|               LastName|   string|   NULL|
|                    DOB|timestamp|   NULL|
|                    age|      int|   NULL|
|# Partition Information|         |       |
|             # col_name|data_type|comment|
|                    age|      int|   NULL|
+-----------------------+---------+-------+

-- Add a new partition to a table
SHOW PARTITIONS StudentInfo;
+---------+
|partition|
+---------+
|   age=11|
|   age=12|
|   age=15|
+---------+

ALTER TABLE StudentInfo ADD IF NOT EXISTS PARTITION (age=18);

-- After adding a new partition to the table
SHOW PARTITIONS StudentInfo;
+---------+
|partition|
+---------+
|   age=11|
|   age=12|
|   age=15|
|   age=18|
+---------+

-- Drop a partition from the table
SHOW PARTITIONS StudentInfo;
+---------+
|partition|
+---------+
|   age=11|
|   age=12|
|   age=15|
|   age=18|
+---------+

ALTER TABLE StudentInfo DROP IF EXISTS PARTITION (age=18);

-- After dropping the partition of the table
SHOW PARTITIONS StudentInfo;
+---------+
|partition|
+---------+
|   age=11|
|   age=12|
|   age=15|
+---------+

-- Adding multiple partitions to the table
SHOW PARTITIONS StudentInfo;
+---------+
|partition|
+---------+
|   age=11|
|   age=12|
|   age=15|
+---------+

ALTER TABLE StudentInfo ADD IF NOT EXISTS PARTITION (age=18) PARTITION (age=20);

-- After adding multiple partitions to the table
SHOW PARTITIONS StudentInfo;
+---------+
|partition|
+---------+
|   age=11|
|   age=12|
|   age=15|
|   age=18|
|   age=20|
+---------+

-- ALTER OR CHANGE COLUMNS
DESC StudentInfo;
+-----------------------+---------+-------+
|               col_name|data_type|comment|
+-----------------------+---------+-------+
|                   name|   string|   NULL|
|                 rollno|      int|   NULL|
|               LastName|   string|   NULL|
|                    DOB|timestamp|   NULL|
|                    age|      int|   NULL|
|# Partition Information|         |       |
|             # col_name|data_type|comment|
|                    age|      int|   NULL|
+-----------------------+---------+-------+

ALTER TABLE StudentInfo ALTER COLUMN name COMMENT "new comment";

--After ALTER or CHANGE COLUMNS
DESC StudentInfo;
+-----------------------+---------+-----------+
|               col_name|data_type|    comment|
+-----------------------+---------+-----------+
|                   name|   string|new comment|
|                 rollno|      int|       NULL|
|               LastName|   string|       NULL|
|                    DOB|timestamp|       NULL|
|                    age|      int|       NULL|
|# Partition Information|         |           |
|             # col_name|data_type|    comment|
|                    age|      int|       NULL|
+-----------------------+---------+-----------+

-- Change the fileformat
ALTER TABLE loc_orc SET fileformat orc;

ALTER TABLE p1 partition (month=2, day=2) SET fileformat parquet;

-- Change the file Location
ALTER TABLE dbx.tab1 PARTITION (a='1', b='2') SET LOCATION '/path/to/part/ways'

-- SET SERDE/ SERDE Properties
ALTER TABLE test_tab SET SERDE 'org.apache.hadoop.hive.serde2.columnar.LazyBinaryColumnarSerDe';

ALTER TABLE dbx.tab1 SET SERDE 'org.apache.hadoop' WITH SERDEPROPERTIES ('k' = 'v', 'kay' = 'vee')

-- SET TABLE PROPERTIES
ALTER TABLE dbx.tab1 SET TBLPROPERTIES ('winner' = 'loser');

-- SET TABLE COMMENT Using SET PROPERTIES
ALTER TABLE dbx.tab1 SET TBLPROPERTIES ('comment' = 'A table comment.');

-- Alter TABLE COMMENT Using SET PROPERTIES
ALTER TABLE dbx.tab1 SET TBLPROPERTIES ('comment' = 'This is a new comment.');

-- DROP TABLE PROPERTIES
ALTER TABLE dbx.tab1 UNSET TBLPROPERTIES ('winner');