A group of graduates gather outside the Sheldonian Theatre to have their photograph taken after a graduation ceremony at Oxford University on May 28, 2011. Reuters

Oxford University got caught up in the fake news epidemic this week when international media began to circulate a report that the school's student union told people to use gender neutral pronouns when speaking. The organization rejected Monday claims that it had released instructions about not using "he" or "she" but "ze," the Guardian reported.

"We have not produced a leaflet implying that all students must use ‘ze’ pronouns to refer to others, or indeed to themselves," the union wrote in a blog post on its website. "We would also like to clearly state that we would never tell anyone to use 'ze' pronouns instead of 'he' or 'she' if 'he' or 'she' is the pronoun someone wishes to use. That would be misgendering and would likely have the biggest impact on individuals (ie, some trans students) who may already be struggling to get people to use 'he' or 'she' for them. It would be totally counterproductive."

Though Oxford may not be making its students use the gender neutral pronoun, other institutions have been welcoming alternate pronouns for a while.

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, announced last year that it was letting students pick their pronouns during registration. People can select their preferences from choices like "he/him/his," "she/her/hers," "ze/hir/hirs" and "they/them/theirs." Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, produced a document that explained professors should ask students "what should I call you?" rather than assuming their pronouns based on their names.

The schools say it's a way to demonstrate their commitment to diverse students who might not identify with genders that correspond to their biological sex.

If you're confused, here's how it breaks down: The traditional words "he/him/his" and "she/her/hers" are what are called gendered pronouns, meaning that their use implies all males identify as men and all females identify as women. This can be problematic if you're nonbinary, meaning you don't feel male or female, according to TransMediaWatch.

These days, people have a variety of options for gender neutral pronouns. Some are more common than others. There's the singular "they/them/theirs," which the Washington Post added to its style guide last year; "ze/hir/hirs," pronounced "zee," "here" and "heres;" and "e/em/eirs," the Spivak pronouns, as laid out in this document from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Gender Neutral Pronoun Blog also lists "ne/nem/nir," "ve/ver/vis" and "xe/xem/xyr" as gender neutral pronoun sets. But the blog notes that "ze/hir/hirs" is the most popular set used online.

Now that you've learned the various nonbinary pronouns, try using them in a sentence. Just swap them in the places you would say "he" or "her" — instead of "She read the IBTimes article on her computer," adjust to "Ze read the IBTimes article on hir computer."