The Multi Part Identifier Could not be Bound

There are cases where a SQL Server database developer might get an error message similar to: “The multi part identifier could not be bound“. This happens because of the way the database developer handles table scopes within the query. Read the article below, in order to better understand this error, and see how easy is to resolve it via a simple example.


Reproducing the “Multi Part Identifier Could not be Bound” Error Message

Let’s see below, a relevant example that reproduces the above error message.

Consider two tables; table Employee and table Address.

Employee table:

CREATE TABLE [dbo].[Employee](
[id] [int] NOT NULL,
[name] [varchar](50) NULL,
[age] [int] NULL

Address table

CREATE TABLE [dbo].[address](
[empid] [int] NOT NULL,
[street] [varchar](50) NULL,
[city] [varchar](50) NULL,
[country] [varchar](50) NULL

Let’s say we want to write a query returning all the employees and their country of residence sorted by the latter alphabetically.

A suggested query would be the following:

SELECT AS EmployeeName , AS EmployeeCountry
FROM [Employee] emp
 INNER JOIN [Address] addr ON = addr.empID

Indeed, the above query works fine.

Though if someone tried to get the employees’ country using a subquery like this:

SELECT AS EmployeeName ,
         (   SELECT
             FROM   [Address] addr
             WHERE  addr.empID =
         ) AS EmployeeCountry
FROM     [Employee] emp

… then he/she would end up with the following error:

The multi-part identifier “” could not be bound.


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Explaining and Resolving the Error

The problem in the above T-SQL Statement is that even though we used “addr” as a table alias in the subquery, we are not syntactically allowed to use it outside the scope of the subquery which, in this example, is in the order by clause. Though the opposite is possible, that is to reference a table/alias of an outer query within an internal query (subquery). That is why in our subquery we are able to reference the table/column.

For eliminating the above error and keep on using the subquery, the correct code for this case would be:

SELECT AS EmployeeName ,
         (   SELECT
             FROM   [Address] addr
             WHERE  addr.empID =
         ) AS EmployeeCountry
FROM     [Employee] emp
ORDER BY EmployeeCountry;


Analysis and Discussion

Even though in this example the problem was obvious, in many cases where we develop some really large and complex queries along with subqueries, we might end up consuming valuable time for resolving such issues 🙂

To this end we should always be careful when using subqueries in our T-SQL statements and always keep in mind that subqueries can only provide their results to their outer queries and not references to the subqueries’ tables.

A future post will thoroughly explain the usage of subqueries in SQL Server.


Watch video: The Multi Part Identifier Could not be Bound – How to Resolve in SQL Server


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8 thoughts on “The Multi Part Identifier Could not be Bound”

  1. Simply Forgeting the "FROM" part of a SQL Expression will give you the same error. I pulled half my hair out finding this simple mistake after 17 years of writing SQL statements….Ahhh!

  2. Make sure you have spelled the table name correctly. Misspelling the table name as in "Student.First_Name" if the table name is "Students" (with an s at the end) will also cause this error.

  3. Hello, I am learning Sql and I am stuck doing this stored procedure (see below). Can someone direct me on what I am doing wrong? I am trying to write a code that allows a user to enter business information from two separate table called Business and Employer when "HaveBusiness"? which is a table in another table called person is yes (or = 1) and then reset to Zero (or no) after the insert statements:

    CREATE PROCEDURE [dbo] .[BusinessInfo]

    @BusinessId int,
    @PersonId int,
    @BusinessName nvarchar (50),
    @BizAddr nvarchar (50),
    @BizCity nvarchar (10) = NULL,
    @BizState nvarchar,
    @BizCountryId nvarchar,
    @BizFieldId int,
    @BizPhone int,
    @BizEmail nvarchar (30),
    @BizWebsite nvarchar (50) = NULL,
    @BizFax int = 0,
    @DateBizStarted date,
    @AboutBiz nvarchar (75)

    If dbo.person.HaveBusiness = 1
    Insert into dbo.Business (BusinessName, BizAddr, BizCity, BizState, BizCountryId, BizFieldId)
    Values (@BusinessName, @BizAddr, @BizCity, @BizState, @BizCountryId, @BizFieldId)
    Insert into dbo.Employer (BizPhone, BizEmail, BizWebsite, BizFax, DateBizStarted, AboutBiz)
    Values (@BizPhone, @BizEmail, @BizWebsite, @BizFax, @DateBizStarted, @AboutBiz)


    Update HaveBusiness
    SET HaveBusiness = 0;

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