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Difference between Select and SelectMany in LINQ

Posted by codingsense on September 16, 2008

The difference between select and selectMany can be seen when we are accessing data from multilevel classes.

Download Sample Code – 2.62 Kb

In the below example we shall see what exactly is the difference while accessing the properties.

When we access some data by using select it gives us the data that is grouped under the parent (i.e gives multiple arrays). To access the output we need to loop twice.

////This code shows how to use Select()             
var Query2 = Builders.Select(Build => Build.Locations);

// Notice that two foreach loops are required to iterate through
// the results because the query returns a collection of arrays.            
foreach (List<String> BuildList in Query2)
        foreach (string builds in BuildList)


But using the same sample when we use select many it gives the selected items in one array(i.e it give the output as it is joining all the output from select command)

// Query using SelectMany().            
var query1 = Builders.SelectMany(Build => Build.Locations);

// Only one foreach loop is required to iterate through the
// results because it is a one-dimensional collection.
// Select many joins the output of all the sub collections in to one.            
foreach (string Loc in query1)


Difference select and selectMany

Difference Select and SelectMany

Happy learning 🙂


11 Responses to “Difference between Select and SelectMany in LINQ”

  1. Ben y said

    Very helpful.

  2. Yuriy Zaletskyy said

    I would like to see also what is Build.Locations

    • codingsense said


      I have given a link for downloading the source code in the above post. There you will find full description of the difference.

      Naveen Prabhu

  3. Thannks Buddy 🙂

  4. Daniel said

    Thanks mate.

  5. Asad said

    Great help

  6. John said

    Very simple and elegant explanation. Thank you.

  7. Santosh Kumar Arisetty said

    Can you post something related to persistent objects rather than in memory objects. I would like to see that. If at all the SelectMany merges the data, is it going to exclude the redundant ones?

    • codingsense said

      Hi Santosh,

      Any object you read from will get queried in the memory, so I used Linq to objects samples. It can be extended with any other objects.


  8. Very good example

  9. The is the best example I’ve seen, thanks for the sample code too.

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