13.2.9.6 Subqueries with EXISTS or NOT EXISTS

If a subquery returns any rows at all, EXISTS subquery is TRUE, and NOT EXISTS subquery is FALSE. For example:

SELECT column1 FROM t1 WHERE EXISTS (SELECT * FROM t2);

Traditionally, an EXISTS subquery starts with SELECT *, but it could begin with SELECT 5 or SELECT column1 or anything at all. MySQL ignores the SELECT list in such a subquery, so it makes no difference.

For the preceding example, if t2 contains any rows, even rows with nothing but NULL values, the EXISTS condition is TRUE. This is actually an unlikely example because a [NOT] EXISTS subquery almost always contains correlations. Here are some more realistic examples:

The last example is a double-nested NOT EXISTS query. That is, it has a NOT EXISTS clause within a NOT EXISTS clause. Formally, it answers the question does a city exist with a store that is not in Stores? But it is easier to say that a nested NOT EXISTS answers the question is x TRUE for all y?