PostgreSQL error 42601- How we fix it

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Syntax errors are quite common while coding.

But, things go for a toss when it results in website errors.

PostgreSQL error 42601 also occurs due to syntax errors in the database queries.

At 1 onlyhost, we often get requests from PostgreSQL users to fix errors as part of our Server Management Services.

Today, let’s check PostgreSQL error in detail and see how our Support Engineers fix it for the customers.



What causes error 42601 in PostgreSQL?

PostgreSQL is an advanced database engine. It is popular for its extensive features and ability to handle complex database situations.

Applications like Instagram, Facebook, Apple, etc rely on the PostgreSQL database.

But what causes error 42601?

PostgreSQL error codes consist of five characters. The first two characters denote the class of errors. And the remaining three characters indicate a specific condition within that class.

Here, 42 in 42601 represent the class “Syntax Error or Access Rule Violation“.

In short, this error mainly occurs due to the syntax errors in the queries executed. A typical error shows up as:

Here, the syntax error has occurred in position 119 near the value “parents” in the query.

How we fix the error?

Now let’s see how our PostgreSQL engineers resolve this error efficiently.

Recently, one of our customers contacted us with this error. He tried to execute the following code,

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION prc_tst_bulk(sql text)
RETURNS TABLE (name text, rowcount integer) AS
WITH m_ty_person AS (return query execute sql)
select name, count(*) from m_ty_person where name like '%a%' group by name
select name, count(*) from m_ty_person where gender = 1 group by name;
$$ LANGUAGE plpgsql;

But, this ended up in PostgreSQL error 42601. And he got the following error message,

ERROR: syntax error at or near "return"
LINE 5: WITH m_ty_person AS (return query execute sql)

Our PostgreSQL Engineers checked the issue and found out the syntax error. The statement in Line 5 was a mix of plain and dynamic SQL. In general, the PostgreSQL query should be either fully dynamic or plain. Therefore, we changed the code as,

WITH m_ty_person AS (' || sql || $x$)
SELECT name, count(*)::int FROM m_ty_person WHERE name LIKE '%a%' GROUP BY name
SELECT name, count(*)::int FROM m_ty_person WHERE gender = 1 GROUP BY name$x$;

This resolved the error 42601, and the code worked fine.

[Need more assistance to solve PostgreSQL error 42601?- We’ll help you.]


In short, PostgreSQL error 42601 occurs due to the syntax errors in the code. Today, in this write-up, we have discussed how our Support Engineers fixed this error for our customers.

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