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SQL Error 1064: A Beginner's Guide to Fixing the Error

SQL Error 1064: A Beginner's Guide to Fixing the Error

Have you ever encountered an SQL error 1064 while trying to execute a query? It can be frustrating, but don’t worry – you’re not alone. This error message typically marks a syntax error in your MySQL query.

Fortunately, there are only a handful of problems triggering that error. You can efficiently resolve them with a bit of persistence and proper guidance. In this article, we’ll explain what SQL Error 1064 is, what causes it, and how to resolve it. Plus, you’ll learn three tips to avoid it in the future.

SQL Error code 1064 represents a SQL syntax error. It means that the SQL query you’ve written isn’t valid because it contains a mistake in the syntax. In other words, MySQL doesn’t understand your request and returns the error in response.

You will likely see the SQL error code 1064 in a database administration tool like phpMyAdmin or MySQL Workbench. SiteGround users have phpMyAdmin at their disposal in Site Tools > Site > MySQL > PHPMYADMIN > ACCESS PHPMYADMIN.

How to access phpMyAdmin from the MySQL section in Site Tools

Below, you can see a screenshot of phpMyAdmin producing the error.

SQL Error 1064 in phpMyAdmin

There are several variants of the error message:

  • error 1064 (42000) – you have an error in your SQL syntax
  • #1064 – you have an error in your SQL syntax

This error message looks daunting, especially if you’re new to SQL. However, it’s essential to remember that syntax errors are common, and with some practice, you can learn to avoid them.

Understanding SQL Syntax

SQL syntax is a crucial aspect of database management. You can create, modify, and retrieve data from databases using correctly structured SQL commands.

SQL syntax is a set of rules that determine the structure of commands used to interact with a database. SQL commands include the following elements:

  • operators,
  • clauses,
  • expressions,
  • keywords.

The SQL syntax is similar to many other programming languages. While SQL keywords are not case-sensitive, writing them in uppercase is standard practice. SQL statements are typically separated by semicolons.

Familiarizing yourself with the MySQL Reference Manual is essential for working with a MySQL database. You will get a better understanding of the syntax, which in turn will help you avoid syntax errors in SQL queries.

What Causes SQL Error 1064?

As the description suggests, the main reason for the SQL error 1064 is a syntax error in your command. However, other problems can trigger the error, as well. Below, you’ll find a list of the most common ones.

  • Syntax errors – The most common cause of SQL Error 1064. Syntax errors occur when the SQL statement is miswritten or violates the established syntax rules.
  • Obsolete commands – Using outdated and deprecated commands or commands no longer supported in the current version of SQL.
  • Using reserved words out of context – Reserved words are words already used by the SQL language for specific purposes. Examples are SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, ALTER, DELETE, etc. If you use reserved words for a purpose outside of their designated use in your SQL code, you will encounter SQL Error 1064.
  • Incorrect data types – Using incorrect data types in the SQL statement. Inserting text into a numeric field is a typical example.
  • Missing data – If you try to insert or update data in a database missing a required field, the result could be an SQL error 1064.

How to Fix SQL Error 1064

The SQL syntax error can originate from various issues. Here is an order you can follow to find the source of the problem and solve it.

  • Step 1.Read the Error Message Carefully

    When encountering an SQL Error 1064, read the error message carefully. It will indicate which line or section of the SQL statement contains a mistake.

    Below is an example of phpMyAdmin producing the error and pointing out which part is problematic.

    Check the message for the SQL error 1064
  • Step 2.Check Your MySQL Query for Syntax Errors

    Once you’ve identified the part of the SQL statement causing the error, check the SQL code for syntax errors. Look for missing brackets, commas, or misspelled operators, clauses, expressions, or keywords.

    The example from the previous step shows that the problematic part of the SQL command is:

    ''WERE `fpj_options`.`option_id` = 1' at line 1

    Looking closely at the line, it becomes clear that the issue comes from the misspelled “WERE” clause. Its proper form is “WHERE” so the missing “H” triggered the error. Correcting the clause results in a successful execution of the SQL command.

    Successful execution of SQL query after correcting a syntax error
  • Step 3.Check If You Are Using Reserved Words

    If you are using MySQL and receive an error message with the code 1064, it may be because you used words that MySQL considers special. These are called “reserved words,” and examples are ALTER, TABLE, SELECT, etc.

    Reserved words have specific meanings in MySQL. You can’t use them as names for tables, columns, or other parts of a MySQL database without causing errors. Below is an example of the SQL syntax error caused by using the reserved word alter as a table name.

    SQL error 1064 caused by using the reserved word "alter"

    To prevent this error, check for any reserved words used out of place in your queries. You can find a complete list of these words in the MySQL manual. If you use a reserved word, change it to something else.

    If you prefer to use the reserved word, surround it with backticks (`). These backticks will instruct MySQL to treat it as a name and not a reserved word.

    Fixing the SQL error 1064 by using backticks on the reserved word "alter"
  • Step 4.Replace Obsolete Commands

    MySQL has undergone several revisions and changes over the years. Some of these changes have affected the SQL syntax rules. Many of the commands have been abandoned and replaced by new ones.

    You can check the MySQL server version you are using in phpMyAdmin. For more information, read this guide on how to check the MySQL version on the server hosting your account.

    If you’ve identified that you’re using obsolete commands or no longer supported ones, replace them with up-to-date commands.

    For editing outdated commands in files, you can save time by using find and replace tools in your File manager. They can replace all the commands causing the issue with the correct new versions in one go.

    The File Manager in Site Tools offers this functionality for SiteGround users. Open the file you wish to edit, and press the button Replace.

    "Replace" function in File Manager to replace obsolete commands

    In the Find field, type the obsolete command that needs to be updated. In Replace, write the updated command to replace the old one. The tool will rewrite all instances of the outdated command with the new one.

    IMPORTANT! The new SQL command may not work as expected. Before making changes to the file, create a website backup. It will allow you to restore your website quickly in case the changes affect it negatively.
  • Step 5.Check If You Are Using the Correct Data Type

    SQL databases are designed to store various data types. Each has its own specific format and storage requirements. For example, a numeric value requires a different amount of storage space than a string value.

    If you are trying to insert data of one type into a column of another type, you will encounter SQL Error 1064. This error message is usually accompanied by “You have an error in your SQL syntax; check the manual that corresponds to your MySQL server version for the right syntax to use near…”.

    For instance, if you insert a text string into a column defined as a numeric value, you will get SQL Error 1064.

    Wrong data type causing the SQL error 1064

    To avoid this database error, ensure that the data types of the columns in your SQL code match the data types of the values you are inserting.

  • Step 6.Add Missing Data

    Another common cause of SQL Error 1064 is missing data. For example, if you try to insert data into a table with mandatory fields but leave some fields empty, you will get an SQL Error 1064.

    To fix this error, ensure you have provided all the required data. You may have to add the missing data manually.

    Furthermore, the error may appear when importing your database from a corrupted backup file. Create a new backup of your original database and import it on the new server again.

    SiteGround users can take advantage of the tool Import Database Dump, designed for importing larger databases.

    Use "Import Database Dump" in Site Tools to import large databases

    If unsure about the mandatory fields, check the table definition or consult the database administrator.

  • Step 7.Seek Assistance

    If you have tried all the above steps and still can’t fix SQL Error 1064, try finding help.

    You can contact the database administrator or consult an online forum or community dedicated to SQL programming.

    Many online resources are available for beginners and experienced programmers alike, and you can find answers to most SQL-related questions. You can find helpful information in the official MySQL forum, where users aid each other with more elaborate problems and share their experiences.

3 Tips to Avoid SQL Error 1064

You can prevent SQL Error 1064 by following good practices that reduce the chance of making a syntax error.

Use an SQL Validator to Detect a Syntax Error

An SQL validator is a tool that checks the syntax of your SQL code and identifies errors. Using it lets you catch and fix errors early before executing the code.

EverSQL is one of the most popular free SQL validator tools. Submit your SQL query and press the button Validate SQL Syntax. The checker will inspect the code and point out potential mistakes in the MySQL queries.

EverSQL SQL validator tool

Use SQL Aliases

SQL aliases allow you to assign a temporary name to a table or column. Using aliases, you can simplify your SQL code and avoid syntax errors caused by typos or ambiguities. Note that the SQL alias remains active only for the duration of the SQL query.

The clause AS enables an alias for a table or column. To assign an alias for a column, use the following template.

SELECT column_name AS alias_name
FROM table_name;

For assigning an alias to a table, use the format below.

SELECT column_name(s)
FROM table_name AS alias_name;

Replace column_name and table_name with the existing names in your database and alias_name – with your chosen custom alias.

Break Down SQL Statements

Breaking down complex SQL statements into smaller, manageable parts can help you easily identify errors. By testing smaller parts of your SQL code, you can isolate and fix errors before they cause significant problems.


SQL Error 1064 is a common error encountered by SQL programmers. Syntax errors, obsolete commands, incorrect data types, missing data, or other mistakes in the SQL code usually cause this error.

By following the steps outlined in this guide and implementing the tips to prevent MySQL Error 1064, you can avoid it and ensure your SQL code runs smoothly. Remember to always check for syntax errors and seek assistance when needed.

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