Accepts a query string with placeholders for values, and returns a string with the values embedded. The function is careful to quote all of its inputs with dbQuoteLiteral() to protect against SQL injection attacks.

Placeholders can be specified with one of two syntaxes:

  • ?: each occurrence of a standalone ? is replaced with a value

  • ?name1, ?name2, ...: values are given as named arguments or a named list, the names are used to match the values

Mixing ? and ?name syntaxes is an error. The number and names of values supplied must correspond to the placeholders used in the query.

sqlInterpolate(conn, sql, ..., .dots = list())



A DBIConnection object, as returned by dbConnect().


A SQL string containing variables to interpolate. Variables must start with a question mark and can be any valid R identifier, i.e. it must start with a letter or ., and be followed by a letter, digit, . or _.

..., .dots

Values (for ...) or a list (for .dots) to interpolate into a string. Names are required if sql uses the ?name syntax for placeholders. All values will be first escaped with dbQuoteLiteral() prior to interpolation to protect against SQL injection attacks. Arguments created by SQL() or dbQuoteIdentifier() remain unchanged.


The sql query with the values from ... and .dots safely embedded.

Backend authors

If you are implementing an SQL backend with non-ANSI quoting rules, you'll need to implement a method for sqlParseVariables(). Failure to do so does not expose you to SQL injection attacks, but will (rarely) result in errors matching supplied and interpolated variables.


sql <- "SELECT * FROM X WHERE name = ?name" sqlInterpolate(ANSI(), sql, name = "Hadley")
#> <SQL> SELECT * FROM X WHERE name = 'Hadley'
# This is safe because the single quote has been double escaped sqlInterpolate(ANSI(), sql, name = "H'); DROP TABLE--;")
#> <SQL> SELECT * FROM X WHERE name = 'H''); DROP TABLE--;'
# Using paste0() could lead to dangerous SQL with carefully crafted inputs # (SQL injection) name <- "H'); DROP TABLE--;" paste0("SELECT * FROM X WHERE name = '", name, "'")
#> [1] "SELECT * FROM X WHERE name = 'H'); DROP TABLE--;'"
# Use SQL() or dbQuoteIdentifier() to avoid escaping sql2 <- "SELECT * FROM ?table WHERE name in ?names" sqlInterpolate(ANSI(), sql2, table = dbQuoteIdentifier(ANSI(), "X"), names = SQL("('a', 'b')") )
#> <SQL> SELECT * FROM "X" WHERE name in ('a', 'b')
# Don't use SQL() to escape identifiers to avoid SQL injection sqlInterpolate(ANSI(), sql2, table = SQL("X; DELETE FROM X; SELECT * FROM X"), names = SQL("('a', 'b')") )
# Use dbGetQuery() or dbExecute() to process these queries: if (requireNamespace("RSQLite", quietly = TRUE)) { con <- dbConnect(RSQLite::SQLite()) sql <- "SELECT ?value AS value" query <- sqlInterpolate(con, sql, value = 3) print(dbGetQuery(con, query)) dbDisconnect(con) }
#> value #> 1 3