How to Add Time to a Datetime Value in MySQL: A Practical Guide for Database Management

By Cristian G. Guasch • Updated: 09/22/23 • 8 min read

Working with datetime values in MySQL can feel like you’re navigating a complex maze. It’s not always straightforward, especially when you need to add time to an existing value. But don’t worry – I’m here to guide you through this process, shedding light on the intricacies of handling datetime operations in MySQL.

Let’s get started by understanding that MySQL stores date and time data in various formats. The most commonly used format is ‘YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS’. However, there might be instances where we need to manipulate this data – for instance, adding specific hours or minutes to it. This could be useful if you’re tracking certain activities on your website or application and need precise timing details.

In the coming sections, I’ll break down how we can effectively add time to a datetime value in MySQL using built-in functions like DATE_ADD() and ADDTIME(). By the end of this guide, you’ll have gained the confidence to tackle any datetime related task thrown your way!

Understanding Datetime Value in MySQL

Let’s dive right into the heart of MySQL – the Datetime value. It’s a vital component that can be a bit tricky to comprehend, but once you’ve got it down, you’ll see how it significantly streamlines database management.

In the realm of MySQL, ‘Datetime’ is a data type used to store date and time information. This value is typically represented in the “YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS” format. It provides precise details down to the second, making it extremely valuable for tracking events or changes.

Here’s an example:

INSERT INTO orders (order_id, product_id, order_date)
VALUES (1, 101, '2022-01-15 10:30:45');

In this code snippet above, we’re inserting an order record with a specific datetime value (‘2022-01-15 10:30:45’) into our table.

One common misstep I’ve observed among beginners is confusion between DATE and DATETIME data types. While both are used for dates in MySQL:

  • DATE only stores the date (YYYY-MM-DD).
  • DATETIME stores both date and time (YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS).

Remembering this distinction will save you from some headaches down the road!

Next up on our journey through datetime values is managing them effectively – specifically adding time to them. Despite what you might initially think, it’s not as complex as it seems! Stay tuned as we delve deeper into this topic in upcoming sections.

The Role of Date and Time Functions

Let’s dive right into the heart of the matter – date and time functions in MySQL. These nifty tools are your secret weapons when it comes to manipulating data involving dates and times. They’re designed to help you easily add, subtract, or manipulate time values within a database. In other words, they can turn tricky time-related tasks into a breeze.

Here’s an example of how you might use one such function:

SELECT DATE_ADD('2022-01-01 00:00:00', INTERVAL 1 DAY);

This code snippet uses the DATE_ADD function to add one day to a specific date-time value. The result? You’ll get ‘2022-01-02 00:00:00’. It’s as simple as that!

Now, while these functions are undoubtedly powerful, they’re not immune to common mistakes. One such error is overlooking the format of the date-time value you’re working with. MySQL works with specific formats (like ‘YYYY-MM-DD HH:MI:SS’ for datetime), and deviating from these can lead to unexpected results.

SELECT DATE_ADD('January 1st 2022', INTERVAL 1 DAY); -- This won't work!

The above query will fail because ‘January 1st 2022’ isn’t formatted correctly for MySQL.

Another common pitfall is misunderstanding how intervals work in MySQL. For instance, trying to add minutes or seconds using DAY or HOUR intervals would be incorrect:

SELECT DATE_ADD('2022-01-01 00:00:00', INTERVAL 10 MINUTE); -- Correct
SELECT DATE_ADD('2022-01-01 00:00:00', INTERVAL 10 HOUR); -- Incorrect for adding minutes!

So there you have it – a brief look at the role of date and time functions in MySQL. Understanding these functions can be a game-changer, helping you to navigate your way around dates and times with ease. Just remember to pay attention to formatting and intervals, and you’ll be a master of MySQL date-time manipulation in no time!

Steps to Add Time to a Datetime Value

Manipulating datetime values in MySQL can sometimes be tricky, but it’s actually quite straightforward once you get the hang of it. Let’s examine how we can add time to a datetime value.

First off, MySQL provides us with the DATE_ADD() function, which is specifically designed for this task. Its syntax is as follows:

DATE_ADD(date, INTERVAL expr type)

In this context, ‘date’ represents the original datetime value that you want to modify. The ‘expr’ refers to the amount of time you’d like to add and ‘type’ indicates the unit of time (like SECOND, MINUTE, HOUR etc.).

Here’s an example:

SELECT DATE_ADD('2022-01-01 10:00:00', INTERVAL 1 HOUR);

This query will return ‘2022-01-01 11:00:00’, as we’re adding one hour.

While using DATE_ADD(), a common pitfall I’ve observed is forgetting about daylight saving time adjustments. It’s important to remember that MySQL doesn’t account for these automatically. It’ll simply add or subtract based on the interval specified.

Now let’s say you’re more comfortable with arithmetic operations and prefer using them over built-in functions – MySQL has got your back! You can use addition (+) operator directly with datetime values:

SELECT ('2022-01-01 10:00:00' + INTERVAL 1 HOUR);

Again, this query will result in ‘2022-01-01 11:00:00’.

However, there are some quirks when using arithmetic operators in conjunction with datetime values. For instance if you try adding minutes without specifying it like so:

SELECT ('2022-01-01 10:00:00' + 15);

MySQL will interpret the 15 as a number of days, not minutes. So it’s crucial to always specify the unit of time when working with these operators.

By grasping these steps and avoiding common pitfalls, you’ll be adding time to datetime values in MySQL like a pro! Do remember that practice is key – try using these techniques with different examples until they become second nature.

Common Mistakes When Modifying Datetime Values

When it comes to modifying datetime values in MySQL, I’ve noticed a few common mistakes that can trip up even seasoned developers. One of the most frequent hiccups? Incorrectly formatting the datetime value – and boy, can this cause some headaches.

MySQL is pretty specific about how it wants its datetime values presented. It’s expecting a format along the lines of ‘YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS’. So if you’re inputting ‘DD-MM-YYYY HH:MM:SS’, well, you’re going to run into problems. Here’s what that mistake might look like:

UPDATE orders 
SET orderDate = '12-05-2021 13:45:30' 
WHERE orderID = 101;

This would throw an error because the date format isn’t what MySQL is expecting. Instead, you should be doing something like:

UPDATE orders 
SET orderDate = '2021-05-12 13:45:30' 
WHERE orderID = 101;

Another common pitfall I’ve seen involves trying to add time directly to a datetime value without using appropriate functions. For example, attempting to do something like this will not yield results you’d expect:

UPDATE orders 
SET orderDate = orderDate + '01:00:00' 
WHERE orderID = 101;

In reality, MySQL doesn’t recognize this operation and it could lead to unexpected or erroneous results. Instead, use built-in functions such as DATE_ADD or ADDDATE. The following shows how it should be done properly:

UPDATE orders 
SET orderDate = DATE_ADD(orderDate, INTERVAL 1 HOUR) 
WHERE orderID = 101;

Lastly but importantly, forgetting about timezone conversions is another misstep often made while working with datetime values. It’s crucial to remember that MySQL stores datetime in UTC by default. So, if your application operates in a different timezone, you’ll need to account for this when modifying your datetime values.

To sum it up, avoiding these common mistakes can save you from many potential headaches while working with datetime values in MySQL. Remember: format matters, use appropriate functions for adding time and always consider timezone conversions!

Conclusion: Mastering Time Addition in MySQL

I’ve walked you through the process of time addition in MySQL. It’s not so daunting, right? We’ve looked at how to add time to datetime values using built-in MySQL functions such as ADDDATE and DATE_ADD.


These handy functions are pretty straightforward to use. But don’t forget, it’s crucial to understand their syntax fully. If you mix up the order of arguments or misinterpret the interval types, you’ll face errors or incorrect results.

Common mistakes I often see include:

  • Mixing up datetime value and interval value positions.
  • Using wrong interval type like ‘YEAR’ instead of ‘YEAR_MONTH’.

Rewriting your SQL queries by keeping these points in mind will help avoid these pitfalls.

As an expert blogger on this topic, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of practice. The more you play around with different datetime values and intervals, the better you’ll get at manipulating them effectively.

Let’s take a quick look back over what we’ve learned:

  • How to add a specific number of days, months, or years to a date using ADDDATE and DATE_ADD.
  • Understanding the syntax for these functions is vital.
  • Mistakes are learning opportunities – they help us grow!

So there you have it! With patience and practice, adding time to datetime values in MySQL becomes second nature. Keep experimenting with different scenarios until it becomes intuitive – that’s when you know you’ve mastered it!

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