Snowflake DATEADD: Learn How To Use It In Real-World Scenarios

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May 2, 2024

Exploring some practical examples is always helpful when trying solidify your understanding of a new syntax, and that's exactly what we recommend for getting used to the `DATEADD` function in Snowflake.

These examples demonstrate and showcase the function's flexibility.

What are the differences in syntax across SQL dialects?

The `DATEADD` function exists in various SQL dialects with slight differences in syntax and order of arguments. For example, in Snowflake, the syntax is:

DATEADD([datepart], [interval], [from_date])

While in BigQuery, it is:

DATE_ADD([from_date], INTERVAL [interval] [datepart])

These differences can be standardized using dbt macros to avoid confusion when switching between dialects.

What is the return type based on the input and the specified interval?

The function returns a TIMESTAMP if the input is a TIMESTAMP, a TIME if the input is TIME, and a DATE if the input is a DATE and the `[date_or_time_part]` is a day or larger. Understanding these return types is crucial for accurate data manipulation.

How To Add Days to a Specific Date

One common use case is to calculate a future date by adding a certain number of days to an existing date. This can be useful for setting deadlines, scheduling events, or calculating delivery dates.

SELECT DATEADD(DAY, 7, '2024-01-01') AS NewDate;

This query adds 7 days to January 1, 2024, resulting in January 8, 2024.

How To Subtract Months from the Current Date

Another scenario involves subtracting months from the current date to find past dates. This can be helpful for generating reports for previous periods or calculating expiration dates.


This query subtracts 1 month from today's date, providing the date one month ago.

How To Calculate End-of-Month Dates

Calculating the last day of a month can be tricky, especially for months with varying numbers of days. The `DATEADD` function can simplify this by adding months to the first day of a month and then subtracting a day.

SELECT DATEADD(DAY, -1, DATEADD(MONTH, 1, '2024-02-01')) AS EndOfMonthDate;

This query calculates the last day of February 2024 by first moving to March 1, 2024, and then subtracting one day.

How does adding smaller units like hours to a DATE affect the result?

Adding smaller units like hours to a DATE in Snowflake results in a TIMESTAMP. This is because the DATE type in Snowflake does not have a time component, so adding hours or smaller units requires the function to return a TIMESTAMP.

How to Ensure Accurate Date Calculations?

Always verify the unit of time and the value you're adding or subtracting to avoid logical errors in date calculations. For example, adding 1 to a date expecting it to be a month but the unit is set to DAY will result in an incorrect date.

How to Improve the Readability of Your SQL Queries?

Use descriptive variable names for date expressions to improve the readability and maintainability of your SQL queries. This practice makes your code easier to understand and debug, especially in complex queries.

How to Handle Time Zones in Your Date Calculations?

Consider the impact of time zones on your date calculations, especially when dealing with TIMESTAMP values. Snowflake stores TIMESTAMP values in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), so ensure to convert to the appropriate time zone when necessary.

How to Handle Leap Years in Your Date Calculations?

When adding or subtracting years, consider the impact of leap years on your calculations. For example, adding one year to February 29, 2020, will result in February 28, 2021, because 2021 is not a leap year.

What is the ADD_MONTHS Function?

Snowflake provides the `ADD_MONTHS` function, which adds or subtracts a specified number of months to a date or timestamp, preserving the end-of-month information. This function can be useful when you need to calculate dates in terms of months.

How Can You Use DATEADD with Other Date and Time Functions?

Explore the use of `DATEADD` in conjunction with other date and time functions for complex date manipulations. For example, you can use `DATEADD` with `DATE_TRUNC` to round a date to the nearest month and then add a certain number of months.

When is DATEADD Not Appropriate?

While `DATEADD` is a powerful function, it may not be the best choice for all scenarios. For example, if you need to calculate the difference between two dates, the `DATEDIFF` function would be more appropriate. Similarly, for extracting parts of a date, such as the year or month, consider using the `EXTRACT` function.

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