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This actually happened with me. As I moved into my new apartment, the society was also new to me. There is an old couple (aged above 50, I guess). I asked the elderly person (after I became a bit familiar with them) how many kids he has. And he coolly replied, "Two sons, but they are not kids anymore!" Both of us laughed but this triggered a question to my mind.

His answer is valid. How many kids do you have? This means now. The answer is 'NONE' because those two sons are not kids anymore!

What should be an alternative way to express this question?

How many kids/children did you have? ~ but then this means they are dead
How many adults do you have? ~ lol!

A neutral question that works for sure...

How many sons and/or daughters you have? ~ But we generally don't ask this. How many kids/children do you have? is way more common.

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    How many children do you have? Works best. Child means "A son or daughter of any age" LINK – Usernew Oct 14 '15 at 6:05
  • Aw... I have been missing this meaning since ages! +1 @Usernew – Maulik V Oct 14 '15 at 6:31
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    @Usernew, sounds like an answer to me... – Stephie Oct 14 '15 at 7:29
  • @Stephie you are right. Worth noting that not all dictionaries have this! – Maulik V Oct 14 '15 at 7:35
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    NOAD defines kid as informal "a child," and defines child as "a son or daughter of any age." You're never too old to have kids – and they're never too old to still be your kids. – J.R. Oct 14 '15 at 9:57
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As many comments have said, "kids" can refer to children of any age, and the dictionaries support that.

That said, it's peculiar how the meaning of the word can shift with the right pronoun or reference. If I saw your grown sons standing in the kitchen, but didn't know who they were, I would say, "There are two people in the kitchen" – I'd never refer to them as "kids" or "children". But if I'm aware of the relationship, everything changes. In that case, I would probably say, "Your two kids are in the kitchen," even if they stand taller than me, have successful careers, and have kids of their own.

Incidentally, this makes "Two sons, but they are not kids anymore!" a valid answer to your properly-worded question. Your friend wasn't correcting the wording of your question, he was simply providing further information about the ages of his children.

  • +1 for the kitchen example. But 'Your children are in the kitchen' or 'Your kids...' work there? – Maulik V Oct 14 '15 at 10:31

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