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Specify "yesterday" in Oracle date syntax - EASY POINTS!

Posted on 2014-09-04
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Last Modified: 2014-09-04
Greetings, esteemed experts!

Having worked with DB2 for the past couple decades, I'm now having to write SQL code for Oracle. I have a need to return "yesterday's date" in a character-format.

It works great when returning today's date in character format, and it works great returning yesterday's date in date-format, but it seems to fail when returning yesterday's date in character-format.

e.g.
select current_date,
       to_char(current_date)
  from dual
;


CURRENT_DATE TO_CHAR(CURRENT_DATE)
------------ ---------------------
04-SEP-14    04-SEP-14            

select current_date - 1 day
  from dual
;

DAY      
---------
03-SEP-14

select to_char(current_date - 1 day)
  from dual
;

ORA-00907 : missing right parenthesis

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I realize this is probably mind-numbingly easy for most of you, but I'm stumped. What am I doing wrong?

Thanks!
DaveSlash
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Question by:daveslash
8 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:slightwv (䄆 Netminder)
ID: 40304227
provide a format mask for display it in any format you want:
to_char(current_date-1,'MM/DD/YYYY HH24:MI:SS')
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Expert Comment

by:Radha M
ID: 40304228
Try this.
select to_char(to_date('12-sep-06','dd-mon-yy')) from dual;

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Expert Comment

by:slightwv (䄆 Netminder)
ID: 40304233
>>Try this.

to_char without an explicit format mask will return just what the asker posted.

If defaults to DD-MON-YY, then controlled by the parameter NLS_DATE_FORMAT.

It is always best to explicitly set the format mask you want and not leave it up to defaults.
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Expert Comment

by:sdstuber
ID: 40304265
The problem is your date math

simply remove the units,  default date math is in terms of DAYS in Oracle

select sysdate, sysdate - 1 from dual;


when you did this...

select current_date - 1 day   from dual

that was doing the correct math, but the "day" portion was actually just an alias for the calculation results like

select current_date - 1  see_its_just_an_alias  from dual
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LVL 73

Expert Comment

by:sdstuber
ID: 40304271
if you want to specify units, you can use interval math

I have no idea why the number must be passed in as a string, but that's the rule

select sysdate, sysdate - interval '1' hour from dual
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Expert Comment

by:sdstuber
ID: 40304273
you can also use functions to construct an interval, not the units are a string here, as opposed to the literal in the previous example


select sysdate, sysdate - numtodsinterval(1,'hour') from dual
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Accepted Solution

by:
sdstuber earned 500 total points
ID: 40304289
So, pulling all together...

select to_char(current_date - 1)   from dual;

select to_char(current_date - interval '1' day)) from dual;

select to_char(current_date - numtodsinterval(1,'day'))   from dual;

you can include formats as noted above but they have nothing to do with the actual error you saw


You may note I used sysdate previously but current_date here.  I prefer sysdate - one, it's few keystrokes :)
but more importantly, sysdate is the system time.

current_date is the system time adjusted for your session's time zone  meaning two users one in CA and one in NY will get different results for current_date but not for sysdate.

of course, in some usage, the localization would be preferred, but in most cases I've seen, it's not.
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Author Closing Comment

by:daveslash
ID: 40304438
Sdstuber, you rock! Thanks for your help!
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