A semantic field is a group of words that belong together – like sheep in a field. You can find it in a poem, play, novel or any other type of text. Read through and underline words with a similar meaning. For example:
 cling, possessive, stay > Here, the semantic field of possessiveness is used to describe love.
 pain, lethal, knife > semantic field of danger (or pain) used to describe love
 May, summer’s day, darling buds, temperate > semantic field of summer is used to describe beauty
How can I find semantic fields?
Pick out words that are close in meaning (see the example below). Found a field? Now see if you can find another field of words that mean the opposite. This almost always works. Sounds crazy? Try it for yourself.
Can I have a semantic field of one?
No. Your word will be lonely.
Can I have a semantic field of two?
Yes, but it will look a bit silly.
For little kids: show them a poem or description. Ask them to pick out words with a similar meaning. Put them together in a field. You could print off the picture above for them to use.
For age 10 up: picking out the semantic fields helps you figure out – and explain – the author’s view and the mood.
For age 13 up: what’s really interesting is to see how often love poems use the semantic fields of ‘war’, ‘pain’, or ‘suffering’.
How to write about it: e.g. in Valentine, Carol Ann Duffy uses the contrasting semantic fields of togetherness and pain. There are far more words for pain, suggesting that the positive parts of love are almost overwhelmed by a feeling of pain and danger.