What is Data Control Language (DCL)? Easy-to-understand explanation of basic database management concepts

Explanation of IT Terms

What is Data Control Language (DCL)?

Data Control Language (DCL) is a subset of the Structured Query Language (SQL) used for controlling access to a database. It provides a set of commands that are used to define and manage user access permissions and privileges within a database system.

Understanding the Basics of Database Management

Before diving into DCL, let’s briefly understand some fundamental concepts of database management.

Database: A database is a structured collection of data that is organized and stored in a manner that allows for efficient retrieval, manipulation, and management of data.

Database Management System (DBMS): A DBMS is a software system that provides the tools and utilities for managing and manipulating databases. It allows users to store, retrieve, update, and delete data efficiently and securely.

Structured Query Language (SQL): SQL is a programming language used for managing and manipulating relational databases. It provides a set of commands to create, modify, and query databases.

Now, let’s explore Data Control Language in more detail.

Exploring Data Control Language (DCL)

DCL is an integral part of SQL and is primarily used to control access and permissions within a database system. It consists of two essential commands:

GRANT: The GRANT command is used to give users specific privileges or permissions within a database. These privileges can include the ability to read, write, modify, or delete data, as well as perform administrative tasks such as creating or dropping tables.

The syntax of the GRANT command is as follows:

GRANT privileges ON object TO user;

For example, to grant the SELECT privilege on a table called “employees” to a user named “user1,” the command would be:

GRANT SELECT ON employees TO user1;

REVOKE: The REVOKE command is used to revoke or remove previously granted privileges from a user. It essentially undoes the privileges granted using the GRANT command.

The syntax of the REVOKE command is as follows:

REVOKE privileges ON object FROM user;

For example, to revoke the SELECT privilege on the “employees” table from “user1,” the command would be:

REVOKE SELECT ON employees FROM user1;

Real-World Application of DCL

Imagine a scenario where a company has a customer database containing sensitive information such as names, addresses, and contact details. The company would want to restrict access to this database and only grant certain employees or users the privilege to view or modify the data.

In this case, the company’s database administrator can use DCL commands such as GRANT and REVOKE to control access permissions. They can grant SELECT privileges to employees who need to retrieve customer information, while denying these privileges to other users who don’t require access to the data.

By using DCL effectively, the company can ensure that sensitive data is protected, only accessible to authorized individuals, and follows the principle of least privilege.


In summary, Data Control Language (DCL) is a crucial component of SQL used for controlling user access privileges within a database. The GRANT command is used to grant privileges to users, while the REVOKE command is used to revoke those privileges. By leveraging DCL effectively, database administrators can ensure the security and integrity of the data stored in a database.

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