I’m having a difficult time understanding this statement. Can someone please explain with a concrete example?
The reason why this can happen is that all vector spaces, and hence subspaces too, must be closed under addition (and scalar multiplication). The union of two subspaces takes all the elements already in those spaces, and nothing more. In the union of subspaces W1 and W2, there are new combinations of vectors we can add together that we couldn’t before, like v1+w2 where v1∈W1 and w2∈W2.
For example, take W1 to be the x-axis and W2 the y-axis, both subspaces of R2.
Their union includes both (3,0) and (0,5), whose sum, (3,5), is not in the union. Hence, the union is not a vector space.