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Here is the sentence:

Este gran libro es el resultado de años de trabajo duro.
= This great book is the result of years of hard work.

Why is trabajar being conjugated to the yo form? Is the sentence trying to say "This great book is the result of years of my own hard work"?

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Why is "trabajar" being conjugated to the "yo" form?

The short answer is: no, "trabajar" is not being conjugated there. In fact, in "años de trabajo duro", "trabajo" is not a verb, it is a noun.

Here are a few examples of use of "trabajo" as a noun:

  • Mi equipo aprecia mi trabajo (My team appreciates my work)
  • María está en el trabajo (Mary is at work)
  • El trabajo de oficina es aburrido (Office work is boring)

If you look up the definition of "trabajo" on wordreference.com, you'll find not only the uses listed above, but also the conjugation of the verb "trabajar", which is the cause of this misunderstanding:

  • yo trabajo (I work)

Is the sentence trying to say "This great book is the result of years of my own hard work"?

No, it doesn't. The translation in your question is perfect:

Este gran libro es el resultado de años de trabajo duro.

This great book is the result of years of hard work.

It does say the book is the result of hard work, but it doesn't specify whose work.

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  • Thank you. This is very useful. So when we are using these words as nouns do we use the "yo" conjugation form like in that sentence? – 0x499602D2 Mar 21 '14 at 23:04
  • @0x499602D2 I don't think so, or at least I never thought that was the case. Although I can think of similar examples: canto could be "I sing" or "singing" (el canto), rezo could be "I pray" or "a prayer" (un rezo). But this doesn't generalise, for example escribo is "I write" and escrito is "a writing". – Nico Mar 21 '14 at 23:10
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    When using the noun "trabajo", the issue of conjugation doesn't even come up since you don't conjugate nouns. – Willie Wheeler Mar 22 '14 at 5:36
  • @WillieWheeler points to something you are still confused about. In the phrase "hard work", work is not a verb. In the phrase "trabajo duro", "trabajo" is not a verb. – Adriano Varoli Piazza Apr 4 '14 at 14:36
  • Nico, I am amazed on your dedication to the community, first, in comments you tried to make 0x to see for himself his mistake, and as it was not clear for him, you kindly answer in a very elegant way, great work – Poncho Apr 23 '14 at 5:21
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In your sentence 'trabajo' is not the conjugation of 'trabajar'. This is actually a noun.

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If you were to replace trabajo with trabajar, it would read.

This great book is the result of years of working hard.

Even though trabajar isn't conjugated intp the gerund, it will still translate to the English gerund equivalent.

El trabajar es dificil

Working is hard

Just as others have said, trabajo is a noun, not the 1st person singular present tense conjugation. There are a lot of verbs that use their YO forms as nouns and most all of them are action verbs (not auxiliary). Examples

Usar => `Uso' => El uso (The use)

Ayudar => `Ayudo' => El ayudo (The help)

Procesar => Proceso => El proceso (The process)

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