SQL vs HQL: Difference and Comparison

Processing data turns it into information which then is of significant use. Related data is organized into databases (both hardware and software) for easy management. DBMS(Database Management System) software allows users to create and manipulate databases.


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Key Takeaways

  1. SQL (Structured Query Language) is a standardized language used to manage and interact with relational databases; HQL (Hibernate Query Language) is an object-oriented query language designed specifically for use with the Hibernate ORM (Object-Relational Mapping) framework.
  2. HQL allows developers to write queries using Java objects and properties, abstracting the underlying database structure; SQL queries are written using table and column names, requiring more knowledge of the database schema.
  3. While HQL is tailored for Hibernate and Java applications, SQL is a universal language compatible with various database management systems.


SQL is a programming language used to manage and manipulate relational databases, supported by most DBMS. HQL is a high-level object-oriented query language used in the Hibernate ORM framework to query Java objects allowing users to perform operations such as selecting, inserting, and deleting data.


To request and extract data from a database by sending queries, we use QL (Query Language). SQL (Structured Query Language) and HQL (Hibernate Query Language) are used to retrieve data from RDBMS (Relational DBMS) and store data in tabular form.

In our day-to-day life, query languages are vital in providing the basis for various interfaces like the ATM, web pages, online order processing, accounting, insurance records, etc.

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonSQLHQL
Full-FormStands for Structured Query LanguageStands for Hibernate Query Language
Type of programming languageTraditional query languageJAVA-based OOP query language
ConcernsIt pertains to the relation between two tables or columnsIt pertains two the relationship between two objects
User-friendlinessOffers complex interface to new usersProvides user-friendly interface
FeaturesIt uses tables and columnsUses JAVA classes and variables
Interaction with databaseDirectly interacts with the databaseUses the ‘Hibernate’ interface to interact with the database
SpeedNative SQL is fasterNon-native HQL is slower since its runtime is based o mapping, but its speed can be increased by setting the right cache size of the query plan.

What is SQL?

SQL, often called ‘sequel’ or ‘S.Q.L,’ is a database query language that processes data from RDBMSs.

SQL is not an OOP (Object-oriented programming language); rather, it directly generates queries and sends requests for data retrieval from RDBMS. It operates on tables and columns where the data is stored and handles all operations in RDBMSs.

It is the standard database query language in almost all RDBMSs like MySql, Oracle, MsAccess, etc. The standard SQL commands used to interact with the relational databases are SELECT, CREATE, DELETE, INSERT, UPDATE, and DROP.

Unlike other programming languages, SQL cannot be used to develop stand-alone programs and can be operated only inside RDBMSs. It is a declarative type of language, i.e.

Its advantage is that the user is not required to write much code. Still, the users have only partial control over the databases due to the hidden business rules, and it also has a quite complex interface.

mysql database system

What is HQL?

HQL, or Hibernate Query Language, is an object-oriented query programming language embedded in JAVA code. It uses various functions under the JAVA library to convert the entity codes into traditional query codes that can interact with the databases.

This conversion function is performed by a JAVA framework called ‘Hibernate’ from where HQL derives its name. The meaning of hibernation is to pass a particular period in a resting/inactive state.

It is an ORM (Object Relational Mapping) based framework that transfers data between an application and a relational database in the form of objects.

HQL is very useful if a programmer knows OOP language and wishes to interact with databases, which she/he can do without learning the traditional query language SQL.

Also, it is unsuitable for small projects involving fewer tables since introducing the entire hibernate framework becomes difficult.


Main Differences Between SQL and HQL

  1. Traditional SQL code is longer than the HQL code.
  2. SQL is faster than non-native HQL; however, by setting the correct cache size of the query plan, HQL can be made to operate as fast as SQL.
  1. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=HblnED6bKUgC&oi=fnd&pg=PR25&dq=sql+tutorial+informix+guide&ots=scXEV5CJcB&sig=6QyVATrORJKnQ2Fo0L9xBF62SRM&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false
  2. https://books.google.co.in/books?id=n8kFAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA2&dq=hql+tutorial&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=1&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjUlfbE0tfsAhX6wzgGHepLDeAQ6AEwAnoECAIQAg#v=onepage&q=hql%20tutorial&f=false
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