Although "mano" ends in "o," which typically implies that it is a masculine noun, "mano" is actually a feminine noun. So it's "la mano" or "las manos" or "una mano," etc. Another example might be how "dia" is actually a masculine "el dia" which is why we say "buenos dias."
I understand the "me lavo" structure but can it also be: "Yo lavo mis manos antes de la cena."?
If you leave off the reflexive pronoun, iPrash, you can use "lavar" when you are speaking of washing anything BUT people. When you want to speak about people washing themselves, you must use a Spanish reflexive pronoun.
"Yo lavo mis manos antes de la cena."
Grammar-wise is OK, but it's not natural.
When doing the Spanish to English course, I found a lot of Spanish speakers were frustrated with Duo not accepting it, which implies it is widely used. Not sure if it is considered formal Spanish anywhere though.
It's only widely used in amateur translations. Amateur translators tend to translate word for word.
And when I try to be natural and not word for word I am often marked wrong.
Technically I think your sentence is 'before eating dinner' but I agree that the overall meaning is the same.
Grammar isn't really my strong point but I believe the only time you don't need a preposition after 'antes' and 'despues' is when they effect the entire sentence (as adverbs I think). Por ejemplo:
Lo hice antes. = I did it before
Usually 'antes' and 'despues' will take prepositions after them (like 'de'). I think this happens when they are connecting two nouns like in Duo's sentence above (hands and dinner).
"i wash my hands before the meal" INCORRECT. "i wash my hands before tea" CORRECT
"Meal" can mean either breakfast (el desayuno), lunch (el almuerzo), or dinner (la cena).
"Tea" is the English spelling. "Té" is the Spanish spelling. They both mean the same thing.
'antes' = 'before' (opposite of after)
'ante' = 'in front of something' (physically 'before' something)
Earlier, someone explained that the reflexive is not used when referring one's own body parts. But in this example the reflexive is used. I find this confusing.
Both are a correct way of pronouncing "yo," just with different accents/dialects.