"Yo no tengo lavadora."
Translation:I do not have a washing machine.
There was a very similar sentence a couple of lessons back (SP: "Yo no tengo esejo en mi casa" EN: "I do not have a mirror in my house",) that had this same problem. I'm a complete beginner like you, so I'll copy this explanation forward, even if it still feels unsatisfying.
In Spanish the fullest version of that mirror sentence is: "Yo no tengo ningun espejo en mi casa" Which is confusing to an English speaker as it reads like "I do not have no mirror in my house"
Spanish needs both a negated verb and a negated object in sentences like these to work.
We can't say "un" because in Spanish it introduces the ambiguity that you don't have "one," which could suggest you have loads. So "ningun" ("none,") is essential.
This is one sentence form that tries to dodge the whole mess by not using a modifer for the object, which can work with uncountable objects like water or light but seems a little weird with countable ones (the guy who explained this suggested replacing "esejo" for "esejos")
I think its an inevitable part of how we're learning that some of the sentences we're using are simplified forms of more complicated grammar. They don't make full sense in and of themselves.
The same if you say in positive or negative sentence; "yo tengo secadora" or "yo no tengo secadora", so, it's not necessary to put the article "un" or "una" before to the object, because in plurar we add a "s" to the final of the object.
Sorry for my bad English explanation
As says my russian-spanish textbook, articles are not necessary with absence as 'no tener'. Explanation was very simple - there is no difference if you dont have defined subject or undefined, you simply dont have and point, because of that article can be avoided. I think is not certain explanation, at least it variably, but almost always works. (sorry for my incredible english -.-')
I think I get it. It's like if a thing does not exist you can't logistically talk about it as being the thing. That's too definitive for a non-reality. There's no the thing. It doesn't exist.
In English, of course, you can use an article, and it's expected, but English isn't entirely logical being the hodgepodge it is. Our problem is that we are used to the nonsense that is inherent in English and our ears have trouble with genuinely purely logical verbal constructions.
"Yo no tengo una lavadora" would mean "I do not have a washing machine" or "I do not have one washing machine", but this sentence leaves the ambiguity that I may have two washing machines. So, in such cases this ambiguity is removed by using no article in case of negation. "I do not have a washing machine" in Spanish would mean "Yo no tengo lavadora".
This might help: http://spanish.about.com/od/adjectives/a/indefinite.htm
My Spanish teacher recently gave a nice example of why sometimes the use of indefinite articles in Spanish is actually wrong, when in English an indefinite article would be required in the same position:
"Tengo barba" vs. "Tengo una barba"
Here the the use of the indefinite article does not make sense, because a person cannot have more than one beard ("I have one beard" sounds stupid in English, too). I believe that regardless of the negation, this extends to most Spanish constructions with "tener [algo]", where simply possession / non-possession are of interest, and not the exact count of items possessed.
To illustrate: If a smoker asked you for a lighter "Do you have a lighter?" and you had one lighter in your pocket but two more at home, you would not usually answer "I have three lighters" but rather you'd say "Yes, I've got one".
Consider these two English sentences: 1) I do not have any washing machine in my house. 2) I have no washing machine in my house. Both mean the same, but the difference is where the negation (some form of the idea "no") is placed. In the first sentence, the idea of "no" is conveyed by the adverb "not." In the second sentence, the idea of "negation" is conveyed by the adjective "no."
In example 1, the negation occurs BEFORE the main verb "have" (I do not have). The sentence could just as easily be "I do not have a washing machine in my house." In English, the noun phrase "a washing machine" uses the indefinite article "a" instead of the definite article "the." (Articles are a special type of adjective that indicates two things: a singular number and specificity. When an article is definite, it "points" to the noun. When I say, "Pick up THE pencil," I am talking about ONLY ONE SPECIFIC pencil (like the blue one on your desk) out of all of the pencils in the universe. When I say, "Pick up A pencil," I am only specifying the NUMBER of pencils I want you to pick up, NOTHING ELSE, such as whether it is red, blue, sharp, blunt, short, long, etc. Just as with the word "any," it could be any one of an indefinite number of pencils.
In example 2, the negation occurs AFTER the main verb (I have no). In this case, no = none. So, if asked if you have a washing machine, you could say, "I do not have a washing machine," "I have none," or "I do not have any." What is interesting in the answer is that either "none" or "any" = "a washing machine." However, "washing machine" has a definite number (singular), while both pronouns are referring to indefinite numbers (uncountables), just as Spanish uncountable nouns do.
What this all boils down to is that the sentence "Yo no tengo lavadora" does not specify the number by using either an indefinite or definite article, but does have the singular noun "lavadora." The next step is deciding whether to translate "lavadora" with the definite "the" or the indefinite "a."
"I do not have one specific bathroom" or "I do not have one of an indeterminate number of bathrooms" are the only two meanings possible. You do not want to be definite by saying "I do not have "the" ("only one specific") bathroom. (Why? Because you might have five bathrooms.) Thus, you default to "I do not have "a" ("one of an indeterminate number") bathroom" because the indeterminate "a" indicates that you are speaking of an impossible-to-count number of bathrooms.
Speaking of an indeterminable number, you can choose either "none" (a negative spin) or "any" (a positive spin). With English, if you choose "any," then you must put the negation (the word "no") before the verb. Conversely, if you choose "none," the negation is included in the pronoun "none." Unlike Spanish, in English you need to add up +'s and -'s (negations in the sentences). If they add up to an even number, the meaning is positive. If they add up to an uneven number, then the meaning is negative. See BenTurner93's excellent explanation of why an even number of "negatives" is sometimes necessary in Spanish.
This question has already been answered in the comments, but this time I found a link too.
With some verbs, including tener, it's common to omit the article when you would usually be talking about just one item.
Tengo coche - I have a car
Tengo un coche - I have one car
Tienes gato? Do you have a cat?
Tienes un gato? Do you have one cat?
I bet anything this has to do with the fact that this word is very old, and might have originated from a verb to be washing. Also in our language, a washing machine is used as a noun, whereas the actual term in fact is an object that is in the motion of washing. This makes absolutely no sense because it's own existence has taken two separate words, and turned them into one noun. Trippy right?
In Spanish, "b" and "v" are pronounced the same