dbGetQuery() always returns a data.frame with as many rows as records were fetched and as many columns as fields in the result set, even if the result is a single value or has one or zero rows. An error is raised when issuing a query over a closed or invalid connection, if the syntax of the query is invalid, or if the query is not a non-NA string. If the n argument is not an atomic whole number greater or equal to -1 or Inf, an error is raised, but a subsequent call to dbGetQuery() with proper n argument succeeds.

Additional arguments

The following arguments are not part of the dbGetQuery() generic (to improve compatibility across backends) but are part of the DBI specification:

  • n (default: -1)

  • params (default: NULL)

  • immediate (default: NULL)

They must be provided as named arguments. See the "Specification" and "Value" sections for details on their usage.


A column named row_names is treated like any other column.

The n argument specifies the number of rows to be fetched. If omitted, fetching multi-row queries with one or more columns returns the entire result. A value of Inf for the n argument is supported and also returns the full result. If more rows than available are fetched (by passing a too large value for n), the result is returned in full without warning. If zero rows are requested, the columns of the data frame are still fully typed. Fetching fewer rows than available is permitted, no warning is issued.

The param argument allows passing query parameters, see dbBind() for details.

Specification for the immediate argument

The immediate argument supports distinguishing between "direct" and "prepared" APIs offered by many database drivers. Passing immediate = TRUE leads to immediate execution of the query or statement, via the "direct" API (if supported by the driver). The default NULL means that the backend should choose whatever API makes the most sense for the database, and (if relevant) tries the other API if the first attempt fails. A successful second attempt should result in a message that suggests passing the correct immediate argument. Examples for possible behaviors:

  1. DBI backend defaults to immediate = TRUE internally

    1. A query without parameters is passed: query is executed

    2. A query with parameters is passed:

      1. params not given: rejected immediately by the database because of a syntax error in the query, the backend tries immediate = FALSE (and gives a message)

      2. params given: query is executed using immediate = FALSE

  2. DBI backend defaults to immediate = FALSE internally

    1. A query without parameters is passed:

      1. simple query: query is executed

      2. "special" query (such as setting a config options): fails, the backend tries immediate = TRUE (and gives a message)

    2. A query with parameters is passed:

      1. params not given: waiting for parameters via dbBind()

      2. params given: query is executed