What is a Semantic Field?

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:
[1] cling, possessive, stay > Here, the semantic field of possessiveness is used to describe love.
[2] pain, lethal, knife > semantic field of danger (or pain) used to describe love
[3] 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 uppicking 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'. See for yourself with these semantic fields taken from Carol Ann Duffy's Valentine:

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.
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The author, , is an Oxford graduate, outstanding-rated English Language and Literature teacher and of ages 10-18 in the British education system. In 2012, she was nominated for Pearson's Teaching Awards. As a private tutor, she raises grades often from C to A. Her writing is also featured in The Huffington Post. She offers private tuition in the Haywards Heath area, West Sussex.