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The dictionary entry of 打電話 that is given here says:

Verb

  1. to make a telephone call

Therefore, I would expect to be able to use it like this:

    我 晚上 要 打電話 媽媽

However, I found the following example here:

    我 晚上 要 給 媽媽 打電話

Q: are both versions valid? are they both the same?


Should 打電話 be read as a single unit or broken down into 打 電話 ? Is this a relevant issue?

The dictionary entry of 打 that is given here lists:

to send or call

打電報 / 打电报 ― diànbào ― to send a telegraph

打電話 / 打电话 ― diànhuà ― to call on the telephone

打手機 / 打手机 ― shǒujī ― to call on the cellphone

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    This is a case of transitivity. The verb "to call" in English is transitive, but the verbal phrase 打电话 in Chinese is intransitive. – Michaelyus Jul 2 '18 at 10:09
  • @Michaelyus thank you for pointing that out – Patrick Trentin Jul 2 '18 at 10:22
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我 晚上 要 打电话 媽媽 : This is invalid.

In the phrase "打电话", "打" is the verb and "电话" is the object. And the "打" here is not a verb that can take two objects. So you must use: 我 晚上 要 給 媽媽 打電話

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    or 我 晚上 要 打電話 給 媽媽 – Tang Ho Jul 1 '18 at 14:39

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