For some unknown reason, these two sentences:

1a. The report describes the problems at the firm, blaming specific employees.
1b. The report describes the problems at the firm and it blames specific employees.

are close in meaning.

But these two sentences:

2a. He refused the offer, knowing that the offer was a trap.
2b. He refused the offer and he knew that the offer was a trap.

are not as close in meaning. So, the two nonfinite adverbial clauses above have different functions and meanings?

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    It could be because you've arbitrarily chosen to use the same conjunction and in both your "rewrites". That particular conjunction is only one of several possibilities - your second rewrite would be better as "He refused the offer since he knew that the offer was a trap" (or you could get away with as). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 29 '14 at 17:29
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    @FumbleFingers How come the nonfinite adverbial clause in 1a could be replaced with a "and...." clause, but the nonfinite adverbial clause in 2a cannot? – meatie Sep 29 '14 at 17:51
  • I don't understand the question. Adverbial clauses like your two examples can be used in many ways, with many implied or explicit relationships between the "optional, parenthetical" clause and the statement it modifies. We could, for example, trivially extend your first statement to "The report describes the problems at the firm somewhat subjectively", in which case it immediately becomes logical to replace and in your rewrite with since. You seem to assume that and is inherently implied by the construction. It's not. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 29 '14 at 18:46
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    @meatie I'm no academic, but the reason that the meanings between the two rewrites are different is that sentence 2a directly implies that "he" refused the offer BECAUSE the offer was a trap. In 1a, the report describes the problem at the firm, and it also blames the employees, simultaneously. Therefore, the conjunction "and" becomes valid in that context, but it doesn't get the same meaning across in 2b. – Crazy Eyes Sep 29 '14 at 21:39
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    ...you might be better replacing and with a period, so your "rewrite" leaves you with two separate sentences. Sometimes the two sentences can be sensibly "re-joined" using and, but other times a different conjunction is more obviously suitable. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 29 '14 at 21:49

Participle clauses can express cause, result, simultaneous actions, and consecutive actions - the context will help you decide:

'He refused the offer, knowing it was a trap' - cause (because / since he knew)
'He refused the offer, forcing them to reconsider' - result (so they had to reconsider)
'He refused the offer, smiling knowingly' - simultaneous actions
'He refused the offer, closing his case and leaving the room' - consecutive actions

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In option 2a, the clause specifically answers the question why

He refused the offer because he knew that the offer was a trap.

In option 2b, the causal logic is disjoint.

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