If you’re looking to simplify your SQL query with a more efficient operator, the CROSS APPLY function may be just what you need. CROSS APPLY is a table-valued operator that allows you to join a table expression on each row of another table expression. This tutorial will walk you through the basics of using SQL CROSS APPLY for your database needs.


Before we dive into the details of CROSS APPLY, it’s important to have some basic SQL knowledge. You should know how to create and query tables, as well as how to write SQL statements to manipulate your data. Additionally, you should be familiar with the JOIN operator in SQL.


The syntax for SQL CROSS APPLY is as follows:

SELECT column_name(s)
FROM table1
WHERE condition;

Here, table1 is the main table that you’re querying, while table2 is the table expression that you’re applying to each row of table1. The condition is used to filter the results of the query.


Suppose you have two tables: employees and departments. The employees table has a foreign key department_id that references the departments table. You can use CROSS APPLY to list all employees and their respective department names like this:

SELECT e.employee_name, d.department_name
FROM employees e
CROSS APPLY (SELECT department_name FROM departments WHERE department_id = e.department_id) d;

The output of this query will display the employee_name for each employee in the employees table, along with their corresponding department_name from the departments table.

Troubleshooting Tips

If you’re having trouble using CROSS APPLY in your query, there are a few things you can check. First, make sure that you’re using the correct syntax for the operator. Remember that CROSS APPLY is a table-valued function, meaning that it returns a table as a result.

Additionally, make sure that your table expressions are properly defined and that your condition is filtering the results as expected. If you’re still having trouble, try breaking down your query into smaller parts and testing each part individually.


SQL CROSS APPLY is a powerful tool that can simplify your queries and improve their efficiency. With the ability to join a table expression on each row of another table expression, you can quickly and easily extract the data you need from your database. As with any SQL function, it’s important to understand the syntax and use it appropriately to get the best results possible.