He stepped back from the cupboard and pulled the door open.
He stepped back from the cupboard, pulling the door open.
What is the difference between using the participle and the conjunction followed by the verb?
And is a conjunction, joining sentences that are - or should be - grammatically equivalent. He stepped back from the cupboard. He pulled the door open. Two sentences with verb and a subject. This means he stepped away from the cupboard and at the same time he opened the door. But one action is not necessarily the result of the other or so strongly connected to it. In other words, he could have easily opened the door without stepping back from the cupboard. Or, he could have stepped away from the cupboard without necessarily opening the door. The way the sentence is constructed, using the conjunction plus verb, at least implies that these are two separate and independent actions.
However, the participle of pulling is tied so strongly to the pronoun He that it becomes not only tied to that sentence but almost a process or result of it. EG: His stepping away from the cupboard caused him to open it.
So, a sub clause starting with a participle that conveys the action carried out by the pronoun in the main clause is one that implies a stronger dependence on that main clause and is in some way a result of the action in the main clause.
However, the distinction is slight and unless that distinction is important I don't think that it would matter too much which structure you used.
What do you think. Is this being pedantic or could the use of one or the other alter the intended meaning of the sentence?
Please feel free to comment.