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PL/SQL User's Guide and Reference
10g Release 1 (10.1)

Part Number B10807-01
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MERGE Statement

The MERGE statement inserts some rows and updates others in a single operation. The decision about whether to update or insert into the target table is based upon a join condition: rows already in the target table that match the join condition are updated; otherwise, a row is inserted using values from a separate subquery.

For a full description and examples of the MERGE statement, see Oracle Database SQL Reference.

Usage Notes

This statement is primarily useful in data warehousing situations where large amounts of data are commonly inserted and updated. If you only need to insert or update a single row, it is more efficient to do that with the regular PL/SQL techniques: try to update the row, and do an insert instead if the update affects zero rows; or try to insert the row, and do an update instead if the insert raises an exception because the table already contains that primary key.