"He has not had many chances in his life."
Translation:Li ne havis multajn ŝancojn en la vivo.
In many languages (Esperanto being one of them) you can say things like "in the life" instead of "in his life" and it works fine. I think you'd get away with en lia vivo if you forgot about this though.
Especially if you were a beginner.
Otherwise "en sia vivo" would be better than "en lia vivo" :)
It's a pretty common feature of Romance languages, to add the definite article before a noun, which can show one of two things:
1) Generality - To reference the thing not in any specific way, but in a general sense, for example: "La vivo estas bona." for "Life is good."
2) Implied Possession - It's common to use "la" instead of a possessive pronoun when possession is implied or otherwise shown. - "Li rompis sin la brako." for "He broke his arm." This works with family members as well. - "Lasu min demandi al la patro." for "Let me ask (my) father."
The English here is explicitly in the perfect tense, so why not the Esperanto? Given the simple past version wouldn't you assume the guy is now dead, while the perfect version says he is still alive?
Because Esperanto uses the simple tenses nearly all the time.
The compound tenses are there, and can be used if you want to be very precise, but most of the time are not used.
So "havis" could mean any of "had", "has had", or even "had had".
"He has not had"? For "Li ne havis", it should be "He did not have". "Has not had" should be "havinta" or some such; I'm not sure what the form would be.
There's no "should" about it.
Esperanto has the compound verb forms available for greater precision, but very often, just the simple ones are used.
Then present is used for both English simple present and present continuous; past for English simple past, present perfect, present perfect continuous, and past continuous (and sometimes even for pluperfect, especially together with an appropriate adverb such as jam); and future for English simple future or future continuous.
It outright didn't let me get away with "en lia vivo" - why not? "en la vivo" might be preferred, but is "lia" actually wrong? Or just discouraged?
en lia vivo would mean that he has not had many chances in someone else's life.
But the English surely speaks about his own life.
en sia vivo might, therefore, work, using sia which refers to something belonging to a third-person subject such as li.