How to Get the Time From a String in MySQL: A Step-By-Step Guide

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

When working with databases, we often have to manipulate dates and times. And if you’re grappling with MySQL, I’m here to guide you on how to extract time from a string. It’s not rocket science – just some basic understanding of the built-in functions will do the trick.

MySQL comes equipped with an arsenal of date and time functions that make it easy-peasy for us to handle such tasks. With these simple yet powerful tools at our disposal, extracting time from a string becomes as effortless as sipping your morning coffee.

In this article, I’ll walk you through exactly how you can retrieve the time from a string in MySQL. By the end, you’ll be amazed at how straightforward it can be! So let’s dive right in and unravel the mystery together.

Understanding MySQL’s Date and Time Functions

Getting a grasp on MySQL’s date and time functions is an essential step when working with databases. I’ve spent some time getting to know these functions intimately, and I’m here to help you do the same.

Let’s start by saying that MySQL has a variety of built-in functions for handling dates and times. For starters, there’s CURDATE() which retrieves the current date, while NOW() fetches both the date and time. If you’re looking for just the time, you can use CURTIME(). And these are just the basics!

Delving deeper into this topic, we find that MySQL also allows us to manipulate dates and times in our queries using other powerful functions. There’s DATE_ADD() which adds an interval of time to a date or datetime value, as well as its counterpart DATE_SUB(), used to subtract an interval.


The above examples add one day to the current date&time and subtracts one hour respectively.

You might stumble upon common mistakes while trying out these functions. One such error is forgetting that MySQL uses specific formats for dates (YYYY-MM-DD) and times (HH:MM:SS). So if your strings aren’t formatted properly, you’ll hit a snag trying to convert them!

That said, learning how to get the most out of MySQL’s date and time functions can make life much easier when it comes managing data in your database. It’ll take some practice but once mastered – they’ll become invaluable tools in your SQL toolkit!

Essential Steps to Extract Time from String in MySQL

Let’s dive right in. MySQL, one of the most popular open-source relational database management systems, provides a variety of functions that make data manipulation more manageable. Among these features is the ability to extract time from a string, which can be incredibly useful when dealing with large datasets. Now, I’ll walk you through the essential steps for accomplishing this task.

First off, we’ll need to use MySQL’s STR_TO_DATE function. This function lets us convert a string into a date or datetime value by defining our desired format.

Here’s how you might utilize it:

SELECT STR_TO_DATE('YourString', '%Y-%m-%d %H:%i:%s') AS YourDate;

In this example ‘YourString’ represents the text containing your timestamp and ‘%Y-%m-%d %H:%i:%s’ is used as the format specifier. Remember though, it’s important to match your string with the correct date and time format specifiers.

Next up is extracting the time element. To do so, we’ll put into action another mighty function – TIME(). Here’s how:

SELECT TIME(STR_TO_DATE('YourString', '%Y-%m-%d %H:%i:%s')) AS YourTime;

There you have it! You’ve successfully extracted your time from a string in MySQL!

Additionally, there are few common pitfalls to avoid while performing these operations:

  • Make sure your date and time specifiers align correctly with your input string.
  • Keep an eye out for null results if your input strings don’t match up well with their respective format specifiers.
  • Bear in mind that incorrect syntax will inevitably lead to errors – double-checking never hurts!

So there you go – mastering this skill can significantly enhance your capability of handling complex queries involving timestamps in MySQL databases. Happy querying!

Practical Examples: Using TIME_FORMAT and STR_TO_DATE Functions

Let’s dive right into some practical examples. I’ll guide you through the process of extracting time from a string in MySQL using the TIME_FORMAT and STR_TO_DATE functions.

Consider this simple example first:

SELECT TIME_FORMAT(STR_TO_DATE('15:30:00', '%H:%i:%s'), '%h:%i %p') as 'Formatted Time';

Here, we’re using the STR_TO_DATE function to convert a string (’15:30:00′) into a date object. We then pass that date object to TIME_FORMAT, which formats it into a more readable format (’03:30 PM’). It’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it?

But what if your time string is part of larger text? Let’s explore that:

  (STR_TO_DATE(SUBSTRING_INDEX('The event starts at 20:45', ' ', -1), '%H:%i')
), '%h:%i %p') as 'Event Start Time';

In this case, our time is embedded in the phrase “The event starts at 20:45”. We use SUBSTRING_INDEX to isolate the last segment (the time). Then we proceed just like before – converting the string to a date object with STR_TO_DATE, and formatting it with TIME_FORMAT.

Some common pitfalls while using these functions can be:

  • Forgetting that MySQL uses 24-hour format by default. So make sure your input matches this.
  • Not properly matching your format strings in STR_TO_DATE and TIME_FORMAT. If there are mismatches between your data and format strings, you may get NULL or incorrect results.

Remember, practice makes perfect! Experiment with different strings and formatting options until you feel comfortable with these functions. By spending some time understanding how these functions work, you’ll be better equipped to handle date and time data in MySQL.

Troubleshooting Common Errors in Time Extraction

Let’s face it; we’ve all been there. You’re working on your MySQL database, trying to extract time from a string, and bam – you hit an error. But don’t worry! I’m here to help you navigate through some of the common pitfalls.

Firstly, a classic mistake is forgetting to use the TIME_FORMAT() function properly. It’s crucial to remember that this function expects two arguments: the time value and the format you want it outputted in. If you miss one or mess up the syntax, MySQL will return an error.

SELECT TIME_FORMAT('15:30:00', '%h:%i %p');

Another issue that might crop up involves strings with incorrect formatting. Check if your strings are formatted correctly for time extraction. MySQL uses ‘HH:MM:SS’ format by default for time values but if your string deviates from this norm – say something like ’15-30-00′, MySQL won’t be able to parse it as a valid time.

To avoid such issues, ensure your data is clean and well-prepared before attempting any operations:

SELECT STR_TO_DATE('15-30-00','%H-%i-%s');

Sometimes, errors may also stem from using invalid or unsupported formats within DATE_FORMAT() functions. For instance, using ‘hh:mm:ss’ instead of ‘%H:%i:%s’.

SELECT DATE_FORMAT(NOW(), 'hh:mm:ss'); --Incorrect
SELECT DATE_FORMAT(NOW(), '%H:%i:%s'); --Correct

Lastly, remember that not everything goes according to plan when dealing with databases – they can throw curveballs outta nowhere! So always test small queries before launching into large-scale data manipulation tasks.

That should give you some guidance when troubleshooting those pesky errors during time extraction in MySQL. Here’s to smooth sailing henceforth!

Conclusion: Mastering Time Extraction from Strings in MySQL

I’ve come to the end of the journey, and I’m confident you’re now well-equipped to extract time from strings in MySQL. With the right syntax and a keen eye for detail, extracting time becomes as easy as pie.

Let’s remember some key points:

  • The STR_TO_DATE function is your best friend when it comes to converting string data into date or time data.
  • Keep an eye out for the correct format codes. For example, %H:%i:%s stands for Hour(00 – 23):Minute(00 – 59):Second(00 – 59).
  • Don’t forget about error handling. If MySQL can’t interpret the string based on given format, it’ll return NULL.

In terms of code illustration:

SELECT STR_TO_DATE('15:30:20', '%H:%i:%s') AS 'Time';

This statement will successfully convert ’15:30:20′ into a TIME value.

However, common mistakes can creep up. Like using incorrect format codes. If you try:

SELECT STR_TO_DATE('15:30:20', '%h:%i:%s') AS 'Time';

MySQL won’t be able to recognize ’15’ as valid hour according to ‘%h'(01-12) format and return NULL instead.

Hopefully this comprehensive guide has shed light on how to extract time from strings effectively within MySQL. It’s all about practice now! You’ve got this!

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