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Removes all existing columns from a table created with the LazySimpleSerDe and replaces them with the set of columns specified. When the optional PARTITION syntax is used, updates partition metadata. You can also use ALTER TABLE REPLACE COLUMNS to drop columns by specifying only the columns that you want to keep.


ALTER TABLE table_name [PARTITION (partition_col1_name = partition_col1_value [,partition_col2_name = partition_col2_value][,...])] REPLACE COLUMNS (col_name data_type [, col_name data_type, ...])


PARTITION (partition_col_name = partition_col_value [,...])

Specifies a partition with the column name/value combinations that you specify. Enclose partition_col_value in quotation marks only if the data type of the column is a string.

REPLACE COLUMNS (col_name data_type [,col_name data_type,...])

Replaces existing columns with the column names and datatypes specified.


  • To see the change in table columns in the Athena Query Editor navigation pane after you run ALTER TABLE REPLACE COLUMNS, you might have to manually refresh the table list in the editor, and then expand the table again.

  • ALTER TABLE REPLACE COLUMNS does not work for columns with the date datatype. To workaround this issue, use the timestamp datatype in the table instead.

  • Note that even if you are replacing just a single column, the syntax must be ALTER TABLE table-name REPLACE COLUMNS, with columns in the plural. You must specify not only the column that you want to replace, but the columns that you want to keep – if not, the columns that you do not specify will be dropped. This syntax and behavior derives from Apache Hive DDL. For reference, see Add/Replace columns in the Apache documentation.


In the following example, the table names_cities, which was created using the LazySimpleSerDe, has three columns named col1, col2, and col3. All columns are of type string. To show the columns in the table, the following command uses the SHOW COLUMNS statement.

SHOW COLUMNS IN names_cities

Result of the query:

col1 col2 col3

The following ALTER TABLE REPLACE COLUMNS command replaces the column names with first_name, last_name, and city. The underlying source data is not affected.

ALTER TABLE names_cities REPLACE COLUMNS (first_name string, last_name string, city string)

To test the result, SHOW COLUMNS is run again.

SHOW COLUMNS IN names_cities

Result of the query:

first_name last_name city

Another way to show the new column names is to preview the table in the Athena Query Editor or run your own SELECT query.