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Oracle's equivalent of SQL Server's TOP command

I want to retrieve the first row in Oracle from a table, like when using the TOP keword in SQL Server (select top 1 from emp). Is there any similar command in Oracle?

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If you just want the first row in the result set (non-ordered), you can simply use ROWNUM as follows:

SELECT * FROM emp WHERE rownum < 2 ;
If you want the first row of an ordered result set, you need to do the following:
SELECT e.*
  FROM (SELECT * FROM emp ORDER BY empno) e
 WHERE rownum < 2 ;
The reason why is because rownum is assigned to the result set as the records are retrieved but before they are sorted. For that reason you must order the result set in an in-line view before using rownum to retrieve the first row (or any number of first rows for that matter).

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This was first published in April 2003

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