SQL TCL statements

Transaction Control Language (TCL) in SQL is a subset of SQL commands used to manage database transactions. Transactions are a fundamental concept in database systems, ensuring data integrity and consistency by grouping a set of SQL statements into a single logical unit of work. TCL commands allow developers to control when changes to the database are committed permanently or rolled back to a previous state.

Understanding Transactions

A transaction has two possible outcomes: success or failure. If all of the operations within a transaction are successful, the transaction is committed, and the changes are permanently stored in the database. However, if any of the operations within a transaction fail, the entire transaction is rolled back, and the database is restored to its state before the transaction began.

TCL commands provide the mechanism for managing transactions, ensuring data integrity and consistency. They enable users to control when changes are made persistent and provide a way to recover from errors or unexpected events.

Key TCL Statements

TCL statements primarily consist of four key commands:


The COMMIT statement is used to permanently save all changes made during the current transaction to the database. Once a transaction is committed, the changes become permanent and cannot be rolled back. Committing a transaction indicates that you are satisfied with the changes and want to make them a permanent part of the database.



The ROLLBACK statement is used to undo all changes made during the current transaction, effectively canceling the transaction. It is often used when an error occurs during a transaction or when you decide not to apply the changes made.



The SAVEPOINT statement allows you to create a point within a transaction to which you can later roll back. This is useful when you want to partially undo changes made within a transaction without canceling the entire transaction.

SAVEPOINT savepoint_name;

Later, you can use ROLLBACK TO to go back to the savepoint:

ROLLBACK TO savepoint_name;


The SET TRANSACTION statement is used to set various transaction-related properties, such as isolation level and access mode. It allows you to define how transactions interact with each other and how locking and concurrency are managed.

SET TRANSACTION isolation_level, access_mode;

For example:


Transaction isolation levels

In addition to the basic TCL commands, SQL also supports transaction isolation levels. Transaction isolation levels specify how much data is visible outside of a transaction. The different isolation levels are:

READ UNCOMMITTED: This is the lowest isolation level and allows dirty reads. This means that other transactions can see data that has not yet been committed.

READ COMMITTED: This isolation level prevents dirty reads but allows non-repeatable reads. This means that if you read the same data twice within a transaction, you may get different results the second time if another transaction has modified the data in the meantime.

REPEATABLE READ: This isolation level prevents both dirty reads and non-repeatable reads but allows phantom reads. This means that if you insert a new record into a table, another transaction may see that record even if it is not committed yet.

SERIALIZABLE: This is the highest isolation level and prevents all types of reads. This means that other transactions cannot see any data that is part of a transaction that has not yet been committed.

The default isolation level for most DBMSs is READ COMMITTED. However, you may need to change the isolation level for a transaction if you need to ensure that certain data is not visible to other transactions.


TCL statements play a critical role in maintaining data consistency and integrity in a database system, especially in multi-user environments. They ensure that changes to the database are made in a controlled and predictable manner. By committing or rolling back transactions as needed, you can safeguard your data from unintended modifications or errors. Additionally, savepoints provide flexibility within transactions, allowing you to manage complex operations effectively.

In summary, Transaction Control Language (TCL) statements in SQL are essential for managing the transactional behavior of a database, ensuring data consistency, and providing the means to control and manipulate the changes made within a transaction.