stuck in a traffic jam

Humble   Sat May 26, 2007 8:06 am GMT
Please, which is better:
1. The secretary hasnít turned up yet Ė can she have got stuck in a traffic jam?
2. The secretary hasnít turned up yet Ė can she have stuck in a traffic jam?

Is the second one possible at all?

Thanks.
Guest   Sat May 26, 2007 9:06 am GMT
I would say "could she have gotten stuck in a traffic jam?". I imagine the British would say the same except they would use "got" instead of "gotten".
Josh Lalonde   Sat May 26, 2007 1:58 pm GMT
I agree with Guest.
I hate spam   Sat May 26, 2007 9:32 pm GMT
I myself also agree with Guest; I would strongly prefer "could" over "can" here, whereas whether one uses "gotten" or "got" is a matter of what dialect one speaks more than anything else.
Josh Lalonde   Sat May 26, 2007 10:31 pm GMT
I didn't notice your second question. No, the second sentence is not possible in any variety of English that I'm familiar with.
Guest   Sun May 27, 2007 5:34 am GMT
Isnít _can_ also used in guesses about the past? I thought, _could_ just raised the degree of uncertainty.
Travis   Sun May 27, 2007 5:37 am GMT
Whoops, "I hate spam" is really me.
Travis   Sun May 27, 2007 5:40 am GMT
>>Isnít _can_ also used in guesses about the past? I thought, _could_ just raised the degree of uncertainty. <<

No, this is a case in which "could" is used in such a fashion as to preserve the etymology of "could" as being the past indicative or past subjunctive of "can" and where the present indicative "can" cannot be used. "Could" is not merely a more uncertain version of "can", one must remember.
Humble   Sun May 27, 2007 6:11 am GMT
What about this version Ė Can she be stuck in a traffic jam?
Travis   Sun May 27, 2007 6:19 am GMT
>>What about this version Ė Can she be stuck in a traffic jam?<<

This is not quite as ungrammatical, but I still would strongly prefer using "could" over using "can" here, as "can" still sound wrong to me here. Note that such is likely a frozen subjunctive usage, even though with non-modal verbs one would use the indicative here - for instance, one would still say "Does she have to be stuck in a traffic jam?"