Animale: animal Animali:animals
from the animal: dall'animale From the animals: dagli animali
Not sure what I was thinking when I posted that question . . . but you're 100% right, of course. Have a lingot. :-)
Actually, I think dall' is da+l', so since it's l'animale, it becomes dall'animale.
Yes actually I agree. I read that da + lo stays as "dallo". Besides it's not "lo animale". It's "l' animale". dall' comes from da + l' indeed. I think this table is helpful: http://italian.about.com/library/fare/blfare153a.htm
There is no gender difference: dal is da+il, dall' is a truncation of dallo (da+lo). So just follow the rules of those articles.
i don't understand when da means 'from' or 'to' like in 'leggo all'uomo'. why can't I say 'the meat comes to the animal?'
In leggo all'uomo the preposition is 'a' not 'da' ;)
You're perhaps thinking of cases such as "Vengo da te" (I come to you), but in that case 'da te' means "where you live" rather than identifying 'you' as a destination; for instance you'd say "Da me manca la corrente" (In my home there's a power outage) without implying movement.
Try not to focus on the association between prepositions in the two languages; they're often used for different purposes and in most cases you can't assume a direct equivalence.
You use dall' in front of a word that starts with a vowel. e.g. L'anatra would become dall'anatra, or all'anatra. Its nothing to do with 'lo'