In English we also use -ing both to talk about ongoing verbs and to turn verbs into nouns. I am eating (ongoing verb). Eating is important (verb as noun).
But in Japanese the te-imasu form is ONLY for ongoing verbs. Using verbs as nouns uses different rules that we’ll probably eventually get around to.
Participle Are Not Gerunds
Blue: One of the most important uses of the て conjugation is talking about things that are happening right now.
Yellow: Isn’t that what the present tense is for?
Blue: The present tense let’s you say things like “I eat dinner every day”, but the て conjugation lets you say “I am eating dinner right now”.
Yellow: Oh! The -ing conjugation.
Blue: To say “I am X-ing” in 日本語 you use the て conjugation followed by います.
Yellow: So 食べる is “eat” but 食べています is “am eating”.
Blue: Now we can have more natural sounding conversations.
Yellow: Good. All these supernatural sounding conversations were creeping me out.